NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In the early days of the Me Too movement, many Black women say they felt like their stories were going untold, but with the conviction of R. Kelly, one of the biggest R&B artists of our time, there’s now a sense their voices are being heard.
Lizzette Martinez, known to the court as Jane Doe #9, says she was just 17 when R. Kelly sexually abused her.READ MORE: R. Kelly Found Guilty Of All Counts In Sex Trafficking, Racketeering Trial
Her reaction to Monday’s verdict?
“It’s just a really great feeling to finally feel like we matter. We were heard,” she said.
It was one of the most prominent trials of the Me Too era.
RESOURCES: Domestic And Sexual Violence Resources
Me Too International released a statement, saying in part the verdict was “monumental because Black women and Black children were believed. A predator preyed on them for years and got away with it because our society is quick to minimize our suffering and abuse.”
They added, “This moment belongs to the countless Black women who refused to suffer in silence and the allies who didn’t wait for a trial to pursue accountability and justice.”
Though accusations were mounting for decades, a 2019 documentary focused new light on the allegations, giving a voice to his accusers.READ MORE: R. Kelly Does Not Take Stand In New York Sex Trafficking Case
Soon after, new state and federal charges followed.
“I think about the damage that he’s done over the past three decades,” said Dream Hampton, executive producer of “Surviving R. Kelly.”
Hampton spoke out about the verdict on CBS Mornings.
“I want to believe that this means that Black women and survivors will be heard, but I don’t want it to be dependent on a piece of media going viral,” she said.
“Young Black women, when they make these allegations, should be believed. It took too long for the justice system to follow up with this,” said Lance Clarke, a trial attorney and partner at Hamilton Clarke LLP.
CBS2’s Alice Gainer spoke with Clarke about the verdict and its impact on future cases.
“I think it tells powerful men that take advantage of, you know, helpless women that society as a whole, we’re not going to stand for that,” he said.
As for Martinez, she says, “We can start to heal and start going on with our lives.”MORE NEWS: R. Kelly Accuser Testifies Singer Controlled What She Could Say In CBS This Morning Interview
Kelly has denied all accusations despite his conviction. He will be sentenced in May, and he still faces other charges in Illinois and Minnesota.