Trigger Warning: This article contains information about sexual assault which may be triggering for some. Please read with caution and exercise self-care.
Singer R Kelly has been found guilty of all charges in his sex trafficking case and is now potentially facing life in prison.
Kelly faced 22 federal charges that included one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating the Mann Act, which is a federal law against the transportation of “any woman for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery”. He pleaded not guilty, however, a jury of seven men and five women found him guilty on all counts after deliberating for just one day.
The court heard harrowing testimony from multiple witnesses who accused Kelly of being controlling and abusive and instilling fear if his victims did not fulfil his every desire, sexual and otherwise.
Testimony was also given that claimed Kelly made his victims call him “Daddy” and would not allow them to eat or go to the bathroom without his explicit permission.
One witness said he locked her up for at least two days without food or water before assaulting her.
Prosecutors argued that Kelly abused his position of fame and power to lure his victims, sometimes even enlisting the help of his entourage to procure women from the crowds at his concerts.
Acting US attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis said, “Today’s guilty verdict forever brands R Kelly as a predator, who used his fame and fortune to prey on the young, the vulnerable and the voiceless for his own sexual gratification.
“[Kelly is] a predator who used his inner circle to ensnare underage girls, young men and women for decades in a sordid web of sex abuse, exploitation and humiliation.
“To the victims in this case, your voices were heard, and justice was finally served.”
One of Kelly’s earliest known victims was the late singer Aaliyah, who Kelly illegally married in 1994 when she was just 15 years old. The marriage was allegedly able to go ahead due to a false I.D. that said Aaliyah was 18 which Kelly obtained through his tour manager at the time, Demetrius Smith.
In addition to his conviction in New York, Kelly still faces federal charges in Chicago on child pornography and obstruction, and state charges in Illinois and Minnesota.
The accusations against Kelly have been some of the more prominent of the #MeToo era, with the 2019 documentary Surviving R. Kelly allowing victims to detail the sexual and mental abuse they had suffered at the hands of the singer. The series examined how Kelly’s access to top lawyers, money and influence had enabled him to evade criminal charges up until that point.
The disgraced performer also made headlines when he agreed to an interview with US reporter Gayle King, subsequently towering over her as he screamed, cried, pounded his chest and proclaimed his innocence.
Two of the young women who were living with Kelly at the time also appeared with King, with both of them professing their love for the singer and stating that he was innocent of any wrongdoing. Their parents were adamant they had been brainwashed and one of the women later went public with her claims that Kelly had sexually and physically abused her, and forced her to have two abortions.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of a sexual assault, please contact the Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence National Help Line on 1800 Respect (1800 737 732) or head to The Australian Human Rights Commission for a list of state by state resources.