Well, that was fast. Arguments in R. Kelly’s New York case were put to rest on Friday with outlandish closing arguments from his defense team, but on Monday afternoon, the jury delivered a verdict. The seven men and five women who comprised the jury found the disgraced entertainer guilty on all nine counts in Brooklyn federal court—including racketeering and sex trafficking in violation of the Mann Act. R. Kelly’s sentence is still pending and is scheduled to be delivered on May 4, 2022, but the racketeering charge alone could hold up to a 20-year sentence.
From the New York Times:
After nine hours of deliberations, the jury in the singer’s criminal trial in federal court in Brooklyn convicted him of racketeering and eight violations of an anti-sex trafficking law, after beginning its deliberations Friday afternoon. Mr. Kelly now faces the possibility of decades in prison.
The high-profile trial was the first of the Me Too-era where a large majority of the defendant’s accusers were Black women, and the trial was widely seen as a test of the inclusivity of the broader movement to hold powerful men accountable for sexual misconduct.
“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, according to ABC7NY. “He’s not a genius, he’s a criminal,” she said. “A predator.”
Shihata added that Kelly’s accusers “aren’t groupies or gold diggers. They’re human beings.”
Again, this is the first trial following the advent of Me Too, and the first of this scale in which Black women, as well as several Black men—most of them underaged during their alleged interactions with Kelly—have been centered as alleged victims. Following the convictions of Harvey Weinstein and NXIVM leader Keith Raniere, Kelly’s sentencing will prove a litmus test for how these cases are prosecuted when the accusers are Black.
Despite decades of allegations and over 40 witnesses for the prosecution in this trial, R. Kelly was reportedly “shocked” by the verdict, according to MSNBC. He still faces trials in Illinois and Minnesota.