CHICAGO (AP) – A federal jury on Wednesday convicted R. Kelly of multiple child pornography and sexual abuse charges in his hometown of Chicago, dealing another legal blow to a singer who is one of the world’s biggest R&B stars. There used to be one.
Kelly, 55, was found guilty of three counts of child pornography and three counts of soliciting children.
But the jury acquitted him of a fourth pornography count as well as a conspiracy to obstruct justice charge, accusing him of fixing his state child pornography trial in 2008. He was found not guilty of all three counts of conspiracy to obtain child pornography and two more of solicitation. charge.
His two co-defendants were found not guilty of all charges.
The jurors wrote several questions to the judge on Wednesday, with at least one indicating that the panelists were grappling with some of the legal complexities of the case.
One asked whether they had to find the minor who was both seducing and coercing Kelly, or that he either seduced or coerced them. On the objections of Kelly’s lawyer, the judge said they only needed to find one.
During the trial, prosecutors sought to portray Kelly as a master manipulator who used his fame and wealth to reel in star-struck fans, some of whom were minors, then shunned them.
Witnesses said Kelly, born as Robert Sylvester Kelly, was desperate to recover the child porn video he had made and was walking around in a gym bag. He said he offered up to $1 million to recover the missing video before his 2008 trial, knowing they would land him in legal trouble. Prosecutors said the plot to cover up her abuse lasted from 2000 to 2020.
Kelly’s aides Darrell McDavid and Milton Brown were co-defendants in the Chicago lawsuit. The jurors acquitted McDavid, a longtime Kelly business manager who was accused of conspiring with Kelly to mishandle the 2008 trial. Brown, a colleague of Kelly’s for years, was acquitted of receiving child pornography.
Kelly suffered a 13 count. A conviction of just one count of child pornography carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years, while a minimum of five years is required for possession of child pornography. Judges may order, in individual cases, that previously sentenced defendants serve their new sentences only after the first term is fully completed, or after that. Federal prisoners must serve at least 85% of their sentences.
During Tuesday’s closing debate, Kelly attorney Jennifer Bonzen compared government testimony and evidence to a cockroach and her case to a bowl of soup.
If a cockroach fell into the soup, he said, “You don’t just take the cockroach out and eat the rest of the soup. You throw the whole soup out,” the jurors said.
“There are a lot of cockroaches right now,” she said of the prosecution’s case.
The three defendants called only a few witnesses in four days. Co-defendant McDavid, who was on the stand for three days, may have damaged Kelly’s acquittal hopes by saying that he now suspected Kelly was truthful when he told someone after hearing testimony from the superstar’s accusers. refused to abuse.
In her closing rebuttal, prosecutor Jeannis Apanteng cited testimony that Kelly’s inner circle was increasingly focused on doing what Kelly wanted as her fame boomed in the mid-1990s.
“And ladies and gentlemen, what R Kelly wanted was to have sex with young girls,” she said.
Four Kelly accusers testified, all referred to by pseudonyms or by their first names: Jane, Nia, Pauline and Tracy. Some cried describing the abuse but otherwise spoke calmly and confidently. Brittany, the fifth accused, did not testify.
Sitting nearby in a suit and face mask, Kelly would often close his eyes and look down as his accusers spoke.
A few dozen die-hard Kelly fans regularly attended the test. On at least one occasion during the break, several people drew heartbreaks at Kelly. He smiled back.
Jane, 37, was the government’s star witness and adjudicator for the fixing charge, which accused Kelly of using threats and payments to lie to a grand jury prior to the 2008 trial and to ensure that He and his parents will not testify.
A single video, which state prosecutors said was about Kelly abusing a 14-year-old girl, was the focus of that trial.
At the witness stand for two days in late August, Jane paused, snapped a necklace and patted her eyes with a tissue when she publicly stated for the first time that the girl in the video was her 14-year-old and that the man Tha Kelly, who must have been about 30 years old.
Some jurors in the 2008 trial said they had to acquit Kelly because the girl in the video did not testify. At the federal trial in Chicago, Jen said she lied to a state grand jury in 2002, when she said it wasn’t her in the video, part of her reason for lying was that she cared for Kelly. And didn’t want to get him in trouble.
Jane told the jurors that she was 15 when they had intercourse for the first time. When asked how many times she had sex before she turned 18, she quietly replied: “Uncountable times. …hundreds.”
Jen, who belonged to a teenage singing group, first met Kelly in the late 1990s when she was in junior high school. She went to Kelly’s Chicago recording studio with her aunt, a professional singer. Soon after that meeting, Jane told her parents that Kelly was going to be her godfather.
Jane testified that when her parents confronted Kelly in the early 2000s, she fell to her knees and begged her for forgiveness. She said that she urged her parents not to take action against Kelly because she loved him.
Defense lawyers suggested that a desire for money and fame prompted some government witnesses to accuse Kelly, and they accused many of trying to blackmail him. He also suggested that at least one of his accusers was 17 years old—the age of consent in Illinois—when Kelly began stalking him for sex.
Bonzen asked jurors not to accept the prosecution’s portrayal of her client as “a monster”, Kelly was forced to rely on others due to intellectual challenges, and she occasionally wandered off. used to go.
“Mr. Kelly may also be a victim,” she said in her opening statement.
Prosecutors played excerpts from three videos that Jane said she showed him. Court officials installed opaque screens around the jurors so that journalists and spectators could not see the video or the jurors’ reactions.
But the voice was heard. In one video, the girl can be heard repeatedly calling the man “daddy”. At one point she asks: “Dad, do you still love me?” The man gives her explicit sexual instructions.
Prosecutors have said Kelly shot the video that was also evidence in a 2008 trial in a log cabin-themed room at his North Side Chicago home in 1998.
Another accuser, Pauline, said that Jane introduced him to Kelly when they were a 14-year-old middle school classmate in 1998. At Kelly’s Chicago home later that year, Pauline described her shock when she said she first walked over Kelly and a naked Jane. , She said that Kelly told her that everyone has secrets. “It’s our secret,” he testified, she said.
Pauline tells the jurors that she still cares for Kelly. But, as a 37-year-old mom, she said she now has a different perspective.
“If someone did something to my kids,” she said, “I’m going to kill them. Period.”