NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Former Grammy Award-winning singer R. Kelly was found guilty Monday of a range of sex crimes following weeks of graphic testimony and years of allegations.
The jury convicted the R&B superstar of all eight counts of sex trafficking and one count of racketeering. Kelly now faces the possibility of life in prison.READ MORE: R. Kelly Accuser Testifies Singer Controlled What She Could Say In CBS This Morning Interview
Prosecutors labeled 54-year-old Robert Sylvester Kelly a predator.
“Today’s guilty verdict forever brands R. Kelly as a predator who used his fame and fortune to prey on the young, the vulnerable, and the voiceless for his own sexual gratification,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn M. Kasulis. “To the victims in this case: Your voices were heard and justice was finally served.”
The jury deliberated for a total of about nine hours before sending a note Monday afternoon that read “We the jury have finally reached a verdict.”
R. Kelly has been convicted of racketeering by a federal jury in Brooklyn
— US Attorney EDNY (@EDNYnews) September 27, 2021
CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported Kelly had no reaction as the verdict was read. He wore a facemask and glasses but did not appear to move.
Kelly never took the stand but has denied wrongdoing. His defense plans to appeal.
“He was not anticipating this verdict because, based on the evidence, why should he anticipate this verdict?” defense attorney Deveraux Cannick said. “They totally ignored the inconsistencies that all of these witnesses gave.”
“I don’t know if I’m more disappointed in the jury’s verdict or the government’s actions in this case. I am sure that we are going to appeal,” Cannick added.
Over a 6-week trial, the jury of seven men and five women heard from 50 witnesses including 11 accusers, six of whom testified they were underage when they began having sexual encounters with Kelly.
Watch Alice Gainer’s Report
The prosecution argued Kelly ran an enterprise of assistants, bodyguards and others, all used to recruit, groom and exploit underage girls, boys and young women for his own sexual gratification.
Among the claims detailed at trial – his marriage to the late R&B singer Aaliyah, and how a government worker was bribed to get her a fake ID so Kelly could marry the then-15-year-old because he feared he had gotten her pregnant.
Witnesses testified about being locked in rooms and having to ask permission to leave, or use the bathroom. Others alleged Kelly gave them herpes without disclosing he had an STD.
“He did everything to control them, including when they could go to the bathroom, when they could have food,” said attorney Gloria Allred, who represents three of the women who accused Kelly.
“I’m feeling extremely happy, relieved. I’m so proud of the women who were able to speak their truth,” said Lizette Martinez, known as Jane Doe #9, in reaction to the verdict.READ MORE: Cook County Clerk Testifies About Kelly’s Marriage To Late Singer Aaliyah When She Was 15 Years Old
A handful of witnesses for the defense included former employees and associates who said they never saw Kelly abuse anyone. His lawyers argued the accusers are groupies and stalkers who sought to take advantage of his fame, and lied on the witness stand.
During closing argument, one of Kelly’s lawyers compared him to civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“He used the power of his celebrity to recruit vulnerable, underage girls for the purpose of sexually abusing them. These were not May-October relationships, which is what his defense attorney wanted the jury to believe. These were crimes against children, and some adults,” said Allred.
Watch: Attorney Stuart Slotnick Breaks Down The R. Kelly Verdict
Kelly’s racketeering charge listed 14 underlying acts including kidnapping, forced labor, sex trafficking and bribery. The government had to prove at least two of the 14.
He was also charged with eight counts of violating the Mann Act, which makes it illegal to transport anyone across state lines for any immoral purpose.
The 3-time Grammy winner, seemed untouchable for decades, topping the charts as allegations of sexual abuse mounted. But the 2019 documentary “Surviving R. Kelly” shed new light on the claims. He was arrested weeks after its release.
Amid his undoing, Kelly forcefully defended himself to CBS’s Gayle King in an exclusive interview.
“This is not me. I’m fighting for my f****** life!” Kelly said.
“Mr. Kelly and his associates made one critical error. They underestimated the resilience and courage of the victims who refused to be silenced,” said Peter Fitzhugh, special agent in charge of Homeland Security investigations.
An executive producer for the documentary tweeted in part, “The message delivered today is that anyone who is a victim can have a similar IMPACT.”
Another tweeted, “Grateful to the survivors. The ones who talked and the ones who didn’t.”
Kelly’s sentencing is set for May 4th.
“He could get consecutive time on top of an already very long prison sentence that he will receive,” said Stuart Slotnick, a criminal defense attorney.
Kelly is awaiting another federal trial in Chicago.MORE NEWS: 1st Accuser Testifies About Alleged Abuse When She Was 16 Years Old
CBS2’s Ali Bauman contributed to this report. Editor’s note: This story first appeared on September 27, 2021.