Rapper R. Kelly is found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking


Joel Bautista | The Ticker

Shania DeGroot

After decades of ongoing allegations and a six-week long trial, R. Kelly was found guilty of charges that include sexual exploitation of a child, bribery, racketeering and sex trafficking on Sept. 27.

Kelly will face a second federal trial in Illinois on allegations of child pornography and obstruction of justice, in addition to awaiting punishment in the New York case. Some of the allegations stem from a child pornography trial in Chicago in 2008, in which he was cleared of all counts.

Kelly was convicted of nine counts, including one count of racketeering and eight counts of Mann Act violations. To be convicted of the racketeering charge, he had to be proven guilty of at least two of the 14 underlying offenses. Prosecutors have proven all but two of the 14 underlying racketeering acts, according to CNN.

Kelly is the worst predator she has ever pursued, Attorney Gloria Allred said. She  represented three of the six victims who testified at trial.

“First, he used the power of his celebrity to recruit vulnerable underage girls for the purpose of sexually abusing them. These were not May-October relationships, which is what his defense attorney wanted the jury to believe — these were crimes against children and some adults,” Allred said.

She said the decision was also intended to send a message to other celebrities who exploit people. Kelly’s  lawyer claimed the rapper was not expecting the verdict.

Allegations date back to 1996, when a young woman sued Kelly and alleged that she was underage when he started intercourse with her and another young woman sued in 2001, according to Vox. After an unknown source provided a sex tape to the Chicago Police Department, Kelly was charged with 21 counts of child pornography but he was acquitted of child pornography charges when the matter got to trial in 2008.

There has been a cultural shift in sexual abuse during the time of his allegations. Activists have worked hard in the years following, from Me Too creator Tarana Burke to the women driving the #MuteRKelly social media movement, to create a climate that recognizes Black survivors. “Surviving R. Kelly,” a Lifetime documentary series, exposed even more charges against the musician.

There has been much debate over whether Kelly’s music should still be available on streaming apps to listen to. According to Yahoo! Finance, Kelly’s editorial playlists have stayed virtually unchanged since his conviction. Despite this, some Spotify users appeared to be prompted to add R. Kelly to their own playlists as a result of the occurrence.

Kelly, who is looking at life in prison, will face sentencing on May 4th.