R. Kelly Found Guilty in Federal Sex Trafficking Trial

In Summary

Singer R. Kelly has been found guilty in federal court in New York after a nearly month-long trial on charges relating to racketeering and violations of the Mann Act. 

WARNING- This story contains details of sexual violence. Resources for those triggered by this coverage are available here 

R&B singer R. Kelly has been found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking relating to violations of the Mann Act.

The jury found Kelly guilty of several acts, including enticing and coercing a minor and enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity and making visual recordings of it. The jury also found him guilty of using threatening force to obtain sexual services from minors.

Kelly’s sentencing is set for May 4, 2022. His defense team said they are disappointed by the result and plan to appeal.

The Charges 

The singer faced charges of racketeering and Mann Act violations, which bans sex trafficking across state lines.

Details Revealed in the Prosecution’s Case 

The prosecution’s case featured explosive testimony from more than 40 people, including nearly a dozen accusers and several of the singer’s former employees. BNC correspondents Dray Clark and Astrid Martinez were present in the courtroom during the proceedings listening to the gut-wrenching testimonies.  

The trial began in federal court in New York on August 18 of this year. Prosecutors said Kelly was a “predator” who used his power and notoriety to target, exploit and groom boys and girls for sexual pleasure. They also alleged he ran “an enterprise” where his employees would provide the singer with girls.  

As the trial continued, more women began detailing their experiences with Kelly, including JeRhonda Pace, referred to as Jane Doe #4 in the trial. She was the first to testify on behalf of the prosecution and claimed she met the singer in Chicago back in 2008 when she was 14. She said she was invited to Kelly’s home in 2009 and admitted to lying about her age at the time. Pace alleges she lost her virginity to Kelly in his home and that many of their sexual encounters for more than a year were recorded on video.  

PREVIOUS: R. Kelly Set to Face Charges in New York City After Trial Delays 

R. Kelly’s personal physician testified that the singer once had gonorrhea and still has herpes. An accuser also said Kelly gave her a sexually transmitted disease.  

The jury was also able to hear more details about the singer’s marriage to the late R&B singer Aaliyah, who was just 15 years old at the time.  

As the trial moved into its second week, the singer’s former tour manager testified about how he bribed a government worker to get Aaliyah a fake ID so she could marry Kelly.  

Another accuser, who used a pseudonym to testify anonymously, said she met Kelly in April 2015 when she was 17. She met the singer at a concert and a member of Kelly’s entourage gave her a wristband to move closer to the stage. The woman, who said she was an aspiring musical artist at the time, wanted Kelly to critique her work. She testified in court that they met at a hotel and engaged in sexual activity after Kelly “continuously tried and peer pressured” her into sex before he would listen to her music.  

A woman identified as Jane Doe #5 testified that Kelly claimed he purchased her from her family because they didn’t believe she had any value. She said she met the singer in 2015 when she was 17 years old, but she lied and told him she was 18. Her testimony also included accusations of physical abuse.  

Another person who testified against the singer was one of his former girlfriends. She testified that she spent five years with the singer, living and traveling with him. The unnamed ex-girlfriend alleged the singer beat her with a closed fist, requested she be homeschooled and forced her to have sex with his nephew.  

A witness who testified on the prosecution’s behalf was the best friend of one of the accusers. Under oath, she was asked to read letters, text messages and provide explicit details about her friend’s relationship with the R&B star. One text she read to the jury said, “He has me singing seductive songs like Aaliyah.”  

Another accuser who took the stand said the singer could be nice, but he also put the fear of God into her. The woman, now 39 years old, said she was 17 when Kelly used, abused, degraded and humiliated her. She also said she met Kelly at a McDonald’s in Chicago when one of his employees approached her with his phone number, which she discarded. They met again a year later when she was working as a barista and chatted before he invited her to his studio a few weeks later, where they had sex. Their sexual relationship continued for six months.  

>> BNC Mental Health Resources 

During week three of the trial, the first male accuser testified. He spoke on the stand about how Kelly was manipulative, controlling and used his star power to control people. A female accuser also testified that Kelly raped her backstage at a concert in 1992.  

The singer’s former assistant Suzette Mayweather testified that she traveled with the girls and saw them living with Kelly. She added that she cared for them and spoke to sales associates on their behalf because they weren’t allowed to associate with other men. The former assistant recalls an all-female birthday party at Kelly’s mansion, where he got upset with one of the girls for dancing inappropriately in front of the others. 

An accuser named Faith testified that Kelly exposed her to sexually transmitted diseases. The woman’s father spoke to BNC and said Faith is still going through and reliving the trauma she experienced from her relationship with Kelly. Faith also testified to the singer keeping a gun close by when forcing her to perform sexual acts on him.  

Nathan Edmond, the minister who married Kelly and Aaliyah, testified, alleging he did not know the couple and was just asked to officiate. He revealed he was asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement not to discuss any of the details about the wedding and he kept the promise until the government subpoenaed him to speak in court.  

A witness named Alexis, who testified on her own behalf, favored the defense. She was reluctant to reveal many details about her relationship with Kelly because her memory was hazy. Kelly’s defense team did not cross-examine her.  

An accuser identified as Sonja, a former radio station intern, testified in the trial saying the singer lured her to Chicago by saying he’d give her an interview. However, she said she was locked in a room for three days and possibly drugged.  

Over the course of the trial, several of Kelly’s family members made appearances in court, including his brother Carey, who spoke exclusively with BNC. Carey said the girls accusing his brother are lying and that all the charges should be dropped.  

RELATED: BNC Exclusive: R. Kelly’s Brother Defends Him, Says Accusers Are Lying  

Another accuser named Angela described the shame she felt over her sexual relationship with Kelly in what he said was her “paying her dues.” She testified at some point between 1992 and 1993 that she walked in on Kelly giving late singer Aaliyah, who wasn’t yet 13 years old at the time, oral sex on a couch.  

After his accusers took the stand, some of Kelly’s former employees testified against him. A former personal assistant told the jury that she traveled with girls the singer kept around on tour. She said he had strict rules for them and the girls were not allowed to interact with men, even if it was a cashier. Under cross-examination, she said she didn’t see the singer with the underage girls or witness any abuse, but another former employee testified that the singer always seemed to be around the young girls. 

Cheryl Mack was the final witness called to testify on behalf of the prosecution. She said she met the singer in 2005 and she introduced the singer to someone named Precious in 2009. Precious and Kelly began working together at his home studio near Chicago. Precious was 17 and stayed at a hotel while recording with Kelly, but the relationship soured when she was preparing to file a lawsuit against him.  

Kelly’s Defense Team Works to Discredit Claims 

The prosecution wrapped up its case against the singer and Kelly’s defense team began making their case against the charges. Two witnesses, who were former employees, took the stand. 

As the trial neared its end, Kelly’s former business manager said the singer gave girls cash to get what they wanted. He also said he never saw Kelly abuse his girlfriends or prevent them to speaking to other men.  

Resources for Survivors of Sexual Violence  

The publicity of the R. Kelly trial may have caused emotional trauma in the victims and others who are survivors of sexual assault and violence.  

If you or someone you know is struggling from trauma triggered by this coverage, resources are available here 

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