After a weeks-long federal sex trafficking trial, R. Kelly was convicted of racketeering by a federal jury in Brooklyn Monday.
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An anonymous jury made up of seven men and five women who have listened to witnesses and defenses from the R&B singer's lawyer for over the past month announced they reached a verdict in the afternoon.
Kelly was charged with one count of racketeering, which has 14 underlying acts including kidnapping, forced labor, sex trafficking and bribery. The singer was also charged with eight counts of violating the Mann Act, which makes it illegal to transport anyone across state lines for any immoral purpose.
Although Kelly was found guilty of all counts, he was found not guilty of three racketeering acts relating to a radio intern. The government had to prove at least two of the 14 underlying acts related to the racketeering charge.
The jury took nine hours in deliberations before coming to the verdict. As the verdict was read, Kelly mostly kept his head down. However, he did close his eyes a few times.
Kelly faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on May 4.
Jurors began the day by sending the judge a note asking for transcripts of testimony by two former Kelly employees and for a legal clarification.
The 54-year-old Kelly, perhaps best known for the 1996 smash hit “I Believe I Can Fly, ” previously pleaded not guilty to racketeering charges accusing him of sexually abusing women, girls and boys for more than two decades.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys finished their closing arguments last week.
During testimony, witnesses said Kelly subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were underage. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Kelly “believed the music, the fame and the celebrity meant he could do whatever he wanted,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nadia Shihata said in federal court in Brooklyn in a fiery rebuttal to the defense’s closing argument that portrayed Kelly as a victim of false accusations.
But, she added, “He’s not a genius, he’s a criminal. A predator.” She added that his alleged victims “aren’t groupies or gold diggers. They’re human beings.”
Kelly is also charged with multiple violations of the Mann Act, which makes it illegal to transport anyone across state lines “for any immoral purpose.”
Prosecutors say their evidence proves how Kelly, with the help of some loyal members of his entourage, used tactics from “the predator playbook” to sexually exploit his victims.
The tactics included isolating them in hotel rooms or his recording studio, subjecting them to degrading rules like making them call him “Daddy” and shooting video recordings — some seen by the jury at trial — of them having sex with him and others as a means to control them, prosecutors said.
In his closing, defense attorney Deveraux Cannick told the jury that testimony by several accusers was full of lies, and that “the government let them lie.”
Cannick argued there was no evidence Kelly’s accusers were ever forced to do anything against their will. Instead, Cannick said, Kelly’s girlfriends stuck around because he spoiled them with free air travel, shopping sprees and fancy dinners — treatment that belied the predator label.
“He gave them a lavish lifestyle,” he said. “That’s not what a predator is supposed to do.”