American singer R. Kelly has been found guilty of all counts of his federal sex trafficking case and will now face a possible sentence of a decade to life in prison. The artist, who is already a convicted sex offender, has been charged with one count of racketeering rooted in alleged sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping and forced labor. He is also charged with eight counts of violating the Mann Act, which is an anti-sex trafficking statute.
Today, a jury convicted him on all nine charges. The singer had previously pleaded not guilty to all of his charges pertaining to this trial. Sentencing is scheduled for May 4, 2022. Across a period of twenty days, prosecutors called upon forty-five different witnesses, including eleven alleged victims. The jury was presented with a vast array of evidence including text messages, video and audio recordings.
A crucial part of the federal government’s case against Kelly was his racketeering charge. This particular charge positioned him as the alleged head of a criminal enterprise, and it carried a punishment of up to twenty years in prison. Assistant United States Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez referenced this charge in her opening statement, calling Kelly a “predator… who used his fame, popularity and the individuals at his disposal to target and groom girls, boys and young women for his sexual gratification.”
A couple of key decisions came into play before the trial started and the jury entered the courtroom. U.S. District Judge Ann M. Donnelly critically ruled that prosecutors would be allowed to offer evidence of Kelly’s sexual abuse dating back to the early ‘90s. This time period included the years in which Kelly was illegally married to a then 15-year-old Aaliyah. In addition, Judge Donnelly also allowed the request to hear evidence related to Kelly allegedly giving two women herpes knowingly in 2001 as well as an alleged incident in 1995 in which Kelly allegedly gave a STD to a minor.
Kelly has been in federal custody since July 2019 when he was arrested in Chicago. The controversial singer is still facing a plethora of ongoing federal charges. In addition to these New York based charges, the singer faces similar charges in Illinois and Minnesota. In July, the singer was hit with a new set of allegations related to sexual contact with an underage boy. In April, Kelly associate Michael Williams pleaded guilty to arson. He was one of three men who were charged with intimidating and threatening alleged victims related to Kelly’s sexual assault case.
Earlier this month, Kelly’s longtime executive assistant denied any allegations of wrongdoing on her behalf in an interview on Good Morning America. Copeland, who recently testified at Kelly’s trial, claimed that none of Kelly’s live-in girlfriend were minors.