A court in New York has found R. Kelly guilty of racketeering, bribery, and sex trafficking charges. The singer was accused of running a scheme where underage children and women were sexually abused.
The 54-year-old singer, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, was found guilty on all nine counts by a jury in a Brooklyn court.
“To the victims, in this case, your voices were heard, and justice was finally served,” the acting US attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis said when announcing the verdict, according to The Guardian.
In 2017, a “Mute R. Kelly” movement was launched to convict Kelly for sexual abuse and end financial support for his music career.
He faced allegations of sexual abuse for over 20 years, and the 2019 Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly helped grow the #MuteRKelly movement.
Before his arrest, the movement led to RCA records dropping the highly-regarded R&B singer and songwriter from their record label.
In addition, several artists were pressured to cut ties with the disgraced singer.
Singers, such as Lady Gaga and Celine Dion, removed their collaborations with Kelly from streaming platforms.
The trial judge ordered Kelly to remain in jail awaiting sentencing, set for May 4, 2022.
What does racketeering mean?
R. Kelly was charged with racketeering over 14 individual acts.
These included bribery, three acts of sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, three acts of forced labor, and eight acts of violating the Mann Act, according to The New York Times.
Racketeering is a form of organized crime which involves the perpetrator running an illegal enterprise or racket.
In R. Kelly’s case, the scheme involved using his music and image to exploit underage girls to engage in sexual activity.
According to CNN, the singer’s illegal racket included “managers, bodyguards, drivers, personal assistants, and runners,” and the indictment said the following:
“The purposes of the Enterprise were to promote R. Kelly’s music and the R. Kelly brand, to recruit women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with Kelly and to produce pornography, including child pornography.”
R. Kelly releases a statement
After receiving a guilty sentence, Kelly took to social media to maintain his innocence.
“To all my fans and supporters, I love you all and thank you for all the support,” Kelly wrote on Twitter, adding.
“Today’s verdict was disappointing, but I will continue to prove my innocence and fight for my freedom. #notguilty”