R. Kelly was found guilty Monday of sexually abusing women, boys and girls for decades — capping the ’90s R&B superstar’s stunning fall from grace.
The “I Believe I Can Fly” crooner, 54, was convicted on all nine counts against him, including racketeering and violations of the Mann Act, which prohibits the transport of “any woman or girl” across state lines for any “immoral purpose.”
Kelly, who was wearing a blue suit and white mask, sat stone-faced next to his lawyers as the verdict was read.
He faces 10 years to life in prison at his sentencing, which is scheduled for May 4, 2022.
“To the victims in this case, your voices were heard, and justice was finally served,” acting US Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulist said outside court after the verdict. “No one deserves what they experienced at his hands. Or the threats and harassment they faced.”
A jury of seven men and five women deliberated for about nine hours across two days before reaching their unanimous verdict.
From the beginning of the month-long trial in the federal courthouse in downtown Brooklyn, prosecutors painted Kelly as a “predator” who used his fame and a cadre of employees to prey on young victims.
“This case is not about a celebrity who likes to party a lot,” Assistant US Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez said in her opening statement last month.
“This case is about a predator,” she said.
To prove the racketeering charge against him, prosecutors showed jurors how Kelly used a network of friends and employees in his “inner circle” to transport his victims across state lines, control their actions and facilitate the sexual abuse.
Prosecutors from the Eastern District of New York called a parade of witnesses who testified about the abuse the disgraced singer subjected them to.
The first to take the stand was accuser Jerhonda Pace, who said Kelly repeatedly had sex with her over the course of several months after the two exchanged numbers at a party at the singer’s suburban Chicago mansion when she was under 18 years old.
During their last encounter, Kelly, whose full name is Robert Kelly, allegedly became enraged at Pace because she was texting on her cellphone and did not address him when he walked into the room she was in, she told jurors.
Kelly smacked her in the face and forced her to perform oral sex on him after berating her, she said in court.
During her testimony, she read from a journal, at times pausing to wipe away tears.
“I went to Rob’s house and he called me a bitch,” Pace said. “He said I was a silly bitch. He slapped me three times and said if I lied to him again it’s not going to be an open hand next time.
“He spit in my face and mouth,” she said. “He choked me during an argument. I had sex with him. I had oral sex with him. I went home and confessed.”
Pace said Kelly ejaculated on her face, and said she used her Aeropostale T-shirt to wipe off the semen
Kelly’s attorneys sought to cast Pace — and his other accusers — as hysterical fans who were obsessed with Kelly and concocted stories about him because he refused their advances.
One of his victims was R&B singer Aaliyah, whom Kelly illegally wed in a Chicago hotel room in 1994, when she was 15 years old.
For the illicit nuptials to move forward, Kelly relied on his entourage, prosecutors showed.
A former tour manager for Kelly testified in August that he bribed a Chicago-area welfare office employee to make a fake ID for Aaliyah that listed her age as 18. Kelly was 27 years old at the time.
Prosecutors alleged Kelly married Aaliyah — who died in a plane crash at the age of 22 — in an attempt to dodge criminal charges for having sex with a minor and to block her from testifying against him about the abuse.
Another witness at the trial, a former backup dancer identified as “Angela,” told jurors that she witnessed Kelly performing oral sex on Aaliyah when she was 13 or 14 years old on a tour bus they were traveling on.
Defense attorneys called several witnesses as the trial wound down, relying on Kelly’s employees and other people whose careers were closely tethered to the former star to cast him in a more positive light.
One defense witness, music consultant Julius Darrington, testified he worked with Kelly for several years prior to his arrest — and did not see Kelly abuse women while he worked with him in his Chicago studio and while they traveled across the country for shows.
Under cross-examination, Darrington said he had no knowledge of what Kelly did while he was not with him.
An attorney for Kelly, Devereaux Cannick, said after the verdict that they would likely file an appeal, but did not provide a timeline for when that could happen.
Gloria Allred, who represents one of Kelly’s victims, spoke outside the Brooklyn courthouse after the verdict and read a statement written by her client, identified as Sonja.
“I’m happy with the verdict, and thankful that the jury listened to us. I’ve been hiding from Robert Kelly in fear, due to threats made against me, and I’m ready to start loving my life free from fear, and to start the healing process,” Sonja wrote.
Allred added: “R. Kelly is the worst for many reasons. First, he used his power of his celebrity to recruit vulnerable underage girls.”
Kelly opted to not take the stand in his own defense. But he defended his actions in a trainwreck 2019 interview with CBS News’ Gayle King, where he hysterically proclaimed his innocence, saying he was “fighting for my f–king life.”
“Guys, use your common sense, forget the blogs, forget how you feel about me, hate me if you want, love me if you want, but just use your common sense, how stupid would it be?”
A number of the disgraced singer’s supporters — most of whom sat in a courtroom with a video feed of the trial throughout its duration — gathered in a park across the street from the courthouse after the verdict to show their support for Kelly.
One of them, a man named DeAngelo Brister who claimed to be Kelly’s godson, said the verdict was based on faulty evidence.
“This is totally unjustified. The testimony from his accusers — they didn’t add up. There were holes involved in it,” Brister said. “They found someone guilty on word of mouth.”
Kelly faces more criminal charges outside New York.
He was charged by state prosecutors in Minnesota with engaging in prostitution with a minor and by federal prosecutors in Illinois for child pornography and obstruction.
New York Times