R. Kelly was found guilty on one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating federal sex trafficking laws.
The trial has played out over the course of a month in Brooklyn federal court. Federal prosecutors accused Kelly of running a sex cult deemed an “enterprise” to exploit underage women using his star power and fame. Jurors deliberated for nine hours to reach their verdict, finding the R&B singer guilty on all counts.
R. Kelly now faces decades in prison after he was found guilty on all counts. He will be sentenced on May 4, 2022.
R. Kelly’s sex cult has been an open secret talked about for decades – but the furor kicked off in 2017. BuzzFeed News ran a story about parents who told police their daughter is being held against her will in a sex cult headed by R. Kelly.
That report alleged that up to six women live in properties rented by R. Kelly in Chicago and Atlanta. He controls every aspect of their lives, including what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they’re allowed to sleep, and when they are to have sex with him. According to Cheryl Mack, a former assistant of R. Kelly, the women are lured in by thoughts being close to a rich man.
“This is R. Kelly, I’m going to live a lavish lifestyle,” Mack says of the women. “No. You have to ask for food. You have to ask to go use the bathroom. [Kelly] is a master at mind control. He is a puppet master.” After BuzzFeed News published its report, not much seemed to happen.
Then in January 2019, the documentary Surviving R. Kelly brought detailed allegations to the public eye.
During the R. Kelly trial, federal prosecutors laid out much of the evidence presented in the BuzzFeed report and the documentary. That evidence included testimony from 45 witnesses, 11 of whom were victims of his sexual abuse.
Breaking Kelly’s rules meant punishment, which often included spankings or forced solitary confinement. Numerous witnesses recounted how Kelly forced them to have sex with him and his other girlfriends whenever he wanted. R. Kelly knowingly infected these women with genital herpes without informing them of his condition.
Aside from the federal trial in New York, R. Kelly is also awaiting trial on federal and state charges in Illinois and Minnesota. He was found not guilty of producing child sexual abuse images in 2008, despite video of him urinating on a 14-year-old girl. Many sexual abuse allegations were swept under the rug with secret settlements during that time.