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R&B Star R. Kelly Convicted of Racketeering, Sex Trafficking

Grammy-winning R&B star R. Kelly arrives for a child support hearing at a Cook County courthouse in Chicago, Ill., March 6, 2019. (Kamil Krzaczynski/REUTERS)

R. Kelly, the R&B music star, was convicted of racketeering and eight counts of sex-trafficking by a jury on Monday, following decades of allegations of misconduct.

Prosecutors argued that Kelly used managers and aides to help him meet girls, many of them teenagers, who he later abused. A jury of five women and seven men announced their verdict in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn after two days of deliberations.

Several accusers testified against Kelly, whose most famous song is “I Believe I Can Fly,” and further scrutiny also fell on Kelly’s 1994 marriage to R&B star Aaliyah, when she was 15 years old. One witness described Kelly allegedly sexually abusing Aaliyah when she was 13 or 14 years old.

Kelly produced Aaliyah’s first album, which was titled Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number. Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001.

One of the first women to publicly allege abuse at Kelly’s hands, Jehonda Pace, testified at the trial. Pace alleged in an interview with Buzzfeed in 2017 that she and Kelly had sex when she was just 16 years old.

Another woman, identified only by her first name Stephanie, spoke out against Kelly for the first time at the trial. Stephanie accused Kelly of beginning a sexual relationship when she was 17.

“No one deserves what they experienced at [Kelly’s] hands or the threats and harassment they faced in telling the truth about what happened to them. We hope that today’s verdict brings some measure of comfort and closure,” acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York Jacquelyn M. Kasulis told reporters following the verdict.

Kelly is scheduled to be sentenced on May 4, 2022, and faces decades in prison following his conviction.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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