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R&B singer R Kelly convicted of sex crimes, faces life in prison


clock 2 min read

R&B singer R. Kelly (C) arrives at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building for a hearing in Chicago, Illinois on June 26, 2019.
SCOTT OLSON / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFPR&B singer R. Kelly (C) arrives at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building for a hearing in Chicago, Illinois on June 26, 2019.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 4, when Kelly faces a possible life sentence

R. Kelly on Monday was convicted of leading a decades-long sex crime scheme, with a New York jury finding the superstar who once dominated R&B guilty on all nine charges, including the most serious of racketeering.

After six weeks of disturbing testimony, the jury deliberated just nine hours before finding the incarcerated 54-year-old celebrity guilty of systematically recruiting women and teenagers for sex, before grooming and brutally abusing them. 

Wearing a light blue tie, pinstriped navy suit and a white mask, Kelly sat largely motionless, holding his head down and periodically closing his eyes behind black-rimmed glasses.

He faces up to life in prison, a dramatic fall for the "I Believe I Can Fly" singer long praised as R&B's king.

His sentencing is scheduled for May 4.

"We hope that today's verdict brings some measure of comfort and closure to the victims," said the Eastern District's acting US attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis.

Kelly's attorney Deveraux Cannick, who during the proceedings cast the star as a "playboy" and "sex symbol" whose "groupies" were out to get him, said his team was "disappointed with the verdict."

He told journalists they would be "considering" an appeal.

Calling 45 witnesses, including 11 alleged victims to the stand, federal prosecutors painstakingly wove the threads of alleged wrongdoing to demonstrate a pattern of crimes they say the artist born Robert Sylvester Kelly perpetrated with impunity, capitalizing on his fame to prey on the less powerful.

To convict Kelly of racketeering, jurors had to find him guilty of at least two of 14 "predicate acts" -- the crimes elemental to the wider pattern of illegal wrongdoing.

Lurid testimony intended to prove those acts included accusations of rape, druggings, imprisonment and child pornography.

The jury of five women and seven men found that all but two of the acts had been proven.

Kelly was also convicted on all eight charges of violating the Mann Act, an anti-sex trafficking law.