By Florence Akintola
United States RnB superstar, Roberk Kelly, popularly known as R.Kelly, has been convicted in a sex trafficking trial, after decades of avoiding criminal responsibility for numerous allegations of misconduct with young women and children.
According to chicago.suntimes.com, a jury of seven men and five women found ‘I believe I can flying’ crooner guilty of racketeering on the second day of deliberations, on Monday.
The charges were based on an argument that the entourage of managers and aides, who aided the singer to meet girls and keep them obedient and quiet, amounted to a criminal enterprise.
While testifying against him before the jury, several accusers revealed shocking detail during the trial, alleging that R. Kelly subjected them to perverse and sadistic urge when they were minor.
For years, the public and news media seemed more amused than horrified by allegations of inappropriate relationships with minors, starting with R. Kelly’s illegal marriage to the late Aaliyah Haughton, in 1994, when she was just 15.
R.Kelly’s records and concert tickets sold massively, while other artists continued to record his songs, even after he was arrested in 2002 and accused of making a recording of himself sexually abusing and urinating on a 14-year-old girl.
Global public criticism came after a widely watched docuseries,’Surviving R.Kelly’, made his case a symbol of the #MeToo era, and restored voice to the voiceless alleged victims, who thought their stories were swept under the carpet because they were black women.
At the trial, several of R. Kelly’s accusers testified under anonymity, for privacy reason and to prevent possible harassment by his fans.
Jurors were privileged to see homemade videos of R. Kelly engaging in sexual acts that prosecutors said were not consensual.
Assistant U.S. Attorney, Maria Cruz Melendez argued that R. Kelly was a serial abuser, who “maintained control over these victims using every trick in the predator handbook.”
The defense labeled the accusers, “groupies” and “stalkers.”
Defense Attorney, Deveraux Cannick, questioned the alleged victims for staying in relationships with R. Kelly, if they thought they were being exploited.
“You made a choice,” Cannick told one woman who testified, adding, “You participated of your own will.”
R. Kelly has been jailed without bail since 2019, due to delayed trial by the coronavirus pandemic and his last-minute shakeup of his legal team.
When his trial finally commenced on August 18, prosecutors painted the 54-year-old singer as a spoilt man-child and control freak.
His accusers said they were under orders to call him ‘Daddy,’ expected to jump and kiss him anytime he walked into a room, and to cheer only for him when he played pickup basketball games in which they said he was a ball hog.
The accusers further alleged that they were also ordered to sign non-disclosure forms and were subjected to threats and punishments like, violent spankings if they broke what one referred to as “Rob’s rules.”
Some said they believed he would use the videotapes he shot of them having sex against them, if they ever spilled the milk.
Among the other more troubling tableaus-R. Kelly keeping a gun by his side while he berated one of his accusers as a prelude to forcing her to give him oral sex in a Los Angeles music studio; Kelly inflicted several alleged victims’ herpes without disclosing he had a Sexually Transmitted Disease, (STD); R. Kelly coercing a teen boy to join him for sex with a naked girl, who emerged from underneath a boxing ring in his garage; and R. Kelly shooting a shaming video of one alleged victim showing her smearing feaces on her face as punishment for breaking his rules.
Some of the most tormenting testimony came from a woman, who said R. Kelly took advantage of her in 2003, when she was an unsuspecting radio station intern.
She testified he whisked her to his Chicago recording studio, where she was kept locked up and was drugged before he sexually assaulted her while she passed out.
When she realized she was trapped, “I was scared. I was ashamed. I was embarrassed,” she said.
She said one of R. Kelly’s employees warned her to keep her mouth shut about what had happened.
Other testimonies beamed light on R. Kelly’s relationship with Aaliyah. One of the final witnesses described seeing him sexually abusing her around 1993, when Aaliyah was only 13 or 14.
Jurors also heard testimony about a fraudulent marriage scheme hatched to protect R. Kelly after he feared he had impregnated Aaliyah. Witnesses said they were married in matching jogging suits using a license falsely listing her age as 18, while he was 27 at the time.
Aaliyah worked with R. Kelly, who wrote and produced her 1994 debut album, ‘Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number,’ and died in a plane crash in 2001 at age 22.
In at least one instance, R. Kelly was accused of abusing a victim around the time he was under investigation in a child pornography case in Chicago. He was acquitted at trial in 2008.
For the Brooklyn trial, U.S. District Judge, Ann Donnelly, barred people not directly involved in the case from the courtroom in what she called a coronavirus precaution.
Reporters and other spectators had to watch on a video feed from another room in the same building.
The New York case is only part of the legal peril facing the singer, who has pleaded not guilty to sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota. Trial dates in those cases have yet to be set.