R. Kelly was found guilty on Wednesday of several child pornography and sex abuse offences by a federal jury in his hometown of Chicago, delivering another blow to the singer who was once one of the biggest music stars in the world.
Kelly, 55, was found guilty on three counts of child pornography and three counts of child enticement.
But the jury acquitted him on a fourth pornography count as well as a conspiracy to obstruct justice charge accusing him of fixing his state child pornography trial in 2008, at which he was acquitted. He was also found not guilty on all three counts of conspiring to receive child pornography and for two further enticement charges.
His two co-defendants were found not guilty of all charges.
The conviction marks the latest fall from grace for Kelly, who is already serving a 30-year prison sentence after being found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking in New York last September.
Known for his smash hit “I Believe I Can Fly” and for sex-infused songs such as “Bump n’ Grind,” Kelly sold millions of albums even after allegations of sexual misconduct circulated in the 1990s. Widespread outrage emerged after the #MeToo reckoning and the 2019 Lifetime docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly.”
At the Chicago trial, prosecutors sought to paint a picture of Kelly as a master manipulator who used his fame and wealth to reel in star-stuck fans, some of them minors, to sexually abuse then discard them.
Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, was desperate to recover child pornographic videos he made and lugged around in a gym bag, witnesses said. They said he offered up to $1 million to recover missing videos before his 2008 trial, knowing they would land him in legal peril. The conspiracy to hide his abuse ran from 2000 to 2020, prosecutors said.
Kelly and co-defendant Derrell McDavid, Kelly’s ex-business manager, were accused of fixing Kelly’s 2008 trial on state child porn charges by intimidating and paying off witnesses.
A woman who testified under the pseudonym Jane — one of four Kelly accusers who appeared as witnesses — was the government’s star witness and pivotal to the fixing charge, which accused Kelly of using threats and payoffs to get her to lie to a grand jury before his 2008 trial and to ensure she and her parents wouldn’t testify.
A single video, which state prosecutors said was Kelly abusing a girl of around 14, was the focal point of that trial.
Jane, now 37, testified publicly for the first time last month that she was the girl in the video and that the man abusing her was Kelly, who would have been around 30.
Some jurors in the 2008 trial said they had to acquit Kelly because the girl in the video didn’t testify. At the federal trial in Chicago, Jane said she lied to a state grand jury in 2002 when she said it was not her in the video, saying part of her reason for lying was that she cared for Kelly and didn’t want to get him into trouble.
Jane told jurors she was 15 when they first had intercourse. Asked how many times they had sex before she turned 18, she answered quietly: “Uncountable times. Hundreds.”
Kelly faced four counts of producing child pornography, one of conspiring to obstruct justice by fixing the 2008 trial, one of conspiring to receive child porn, two of actually receiving it and five of enticing minors for sex.
McDavid was charged with four counts — two for receiving child porn, one for conspiring to do so and one for conspiring to obstruct justice by rigging the 2008 trial, at which Kelly was acquitted.
Co-defendant Milton Brown, a former Kelly associate, faced a single count of conspiring to receive child pornography.
— with files from the Associated Press