R&B singer and songwriter R. Kelly was convicted of all charges in his federal sexual assault case on Monday, Sept. 27. He could be sentenced to life in prison.
The charges include racketeering, sex trafficking, kidnapping, bribery, sexual exploitation of a child and violation of the Mann Act – a federal law that criminalizes “the transportation of any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose,” according to Cornell Law.
“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, a predator who used his inner circle to ensnare underaged girls and young men and women for decades in a sordid web of sex abuse, exploitation and humiliation,” said acting U.S attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis at a press conference in front of the courthouse after the verdict was read. “To the victims in this case, your voices were heard and justice was finally served.”
Not everyone agreed that justice has been served. Kelly is Black so his conviction wasn’t surprising, but rather expected, some pointed out on social media. They asked when white people accused of being sexual predators would get their day in court and have justice served for their victims; as well as why some of the parents, whom they felt were complicit, weren’t tried.
“R. Kelly is being locked but all those trifling ass careless ass parents that pimped their kids out to a pervert should be locked up too!” @rashonGraham2 tweeted.
Others agreed that Kelly was bulldozed and wrongfully convicted to further negatively stigmatize Black men. “I wish @DrTJC would comment on how R Kelly is being used to pathologize black males as the “boogey man” of society. @IramiOF,” Pastor Kevin Cosby tweeted.
“This is a dangerous precedent that was set. Now anyone can just make up accusations without any evidence and a black man is found guilty. I hope he gets out like Cosby,” @BlackBeautyFBA replied and others agreed with her.
While the 54-year-old “I Believe I Can Fly” singer had no visible reaction to the verdict, his attorney, Deveraux Cannick, said the verdict was not what Kelly expected and the prosecution “cherry-picked” evidence to support its case, according to CNN.
“You didn’t get to see what we saw in terms of the discovery. You didn’t get to see all the inconsistencies,” Cannick said. “We said in our summation that the government cherry-picked their version that they thought would support the continuation of the narrative … Why would he expect this verdict given all the inconsistencies that we saw?”
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Born Robert Kelly, the Chicago native has been repeatedly accused of sexual abuse, assault and molestation over the years. He has won other cases involving sex crimes, including being found not guilty of 14 out of 14 counts of child pornography in 2008.
Once one of the world’s most beloved musical artists, Kelly has been ordered by a judge to remain incarcerated pending sentencing, which is set for May 4, 2022.
Kelly’s conviction evoked mixed responses from the public. Some on social media said the “When A Woman’s Fed Up” singer got what he deserved. Others defended Kelly and continued to support him. Here are more reactions from Black America:
New York Attorney General Letitia James said she believed justice was served. “For decades, R. Kelly physically and sexually abused women and underage girls. Although nothing can ever make up for years of suffering, those individuals finally received some sense of justice today,” James wrote at the beginning of a Twitter thread she posted to discuss the verdict.
James added, “Today’s verdict is an important moment for accountability in the #MeToo movement: no man —regardless of his celebrity, wealth, or status — is above the law.”
“RKelly is going to jail,” tweeted @TrueWordsRSpoke. “Too many people in and around R. Kelly that knew of his actions and looked away to collect their pay … Also too many celebrities knew and looked away… Too many fans knew and looked away…. R. Kelly deserves all 20 years!”
“I believe everyone involved should be charged ! Y’all wait 20+ years to speak up .. because “ he stop paying y’all,“ @Shan_Twomuch tweeted. “I’m guessing now y’all want to come foward and speak, that’s ONE man it takes a Team to get away with something like that .. every one need to be accounted for!”
“The R. Kelly verdict is about as anticlimactic as it gets. Nobody is shocked by it in the least bit. All the energy that went into convicting him paid off for many people. I’m waiting for the appeal process THAT’S when it’s gonna be must see TV. Other than that, nothing to see!” @BLKLiberation84 tweeted.
Some of Kelly’s fans and supporters showed up to the courthouse to defend the singer and songwriter after his conviction was announced. One woman continued to scream, “We’re not giving up!” in Kelly’s defense.
“Good. he got his day in court, Justice prevailed. Next up…Prince Andrew, Ghislaine Maxwell and Donald Trump,” @RPJP57 wrote.
User @battletested5 called on Dream Hampton, executive producer of Lifetime’s record-breaking documentary “Surviving R. Kelly,” to bring the same energy to Republican Senator Matt Gaez, who is under investigation for sexual crimes. “Dear Lifetime, I’m going to need you to do the same as you did for R Kelly and put out a documentary on Matt Gaetz LOCK. THEM. ALL. UP,” @battletested5 wrote.
One user addressed people who said R. Kelly’s music should be removed from streaming platforms in response to a New York Times article that questioned whether major music streamers would drop the crooner’s music after his conviction.
“No one has yet screamed about removing Harvey Weinstein produced movies from streaming and platforms, or obliterating Roman Polanski’s work or even stopping Donald Trump from running for President. Asking with all sincerity— why isn’t that so?? #RKellyguilty and so are they,” @NOAverageJoJo tweeted.
Not everyone thought R. Kelly should get another chance. Twitter user @stillnaima said Kelly had already gotten grace in his 2008 case. “For the people asking if society won’t give R Kelly a second chance/chance to redeem himself: that chance was when he was acquitted in 2008. His response was to start moving his conquests to a home in GA where the age of consent is 16. He ESCALATED. For over 10 more years,” @stillnaima wrote.
Filmmaker Dream Hampton, whose explosive “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary gave voice to some of Kelly’s victims, tweeted, “Grateful to the survivors. The ones who talked and the ones who didn’t”.
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