Former music artist and R&B sensation R. Kelly has been convicted of sex trafficking on Monday after weeks of graphic and emotional testimony after nearly three decades since the first incidents.
On Monday, acting U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis was outside the Brooklyn courthouse when she announced that the case victims could rest easy because their voices had been heard and justice had been served. It is also where a jury convicted the 54-year-old music artist on all nine counts of sex trafficking and racketeering after less than two days of deliberations.
R. Kelly Convicted of Sexual Trafficking
The jury's verdict sent a loud message to all survivors of sexual violence, said Erinn Robinson, the press secretary for the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. She said that the verdict on Kelly was only made possible thanks to the courage and persistence of the victims until they were heard.
But now that Kelly's case has been closed with a verdict, what is next for the embattled R&B artist? Some wonder what the famous personality's conviction could mean for the #MeToo movement, which contributed significantly to the case's resolution, USA Today reported.
Despite many cheering for the verdict, some are left to wonder why it took so long for Kelly to be convicted of the crimes. Some said that the music artist had an expansive network of enablers around him, including confidantes and employees to many personnel in the music industry. They allegedly knew about Kelly's crimes but did not intervene.
Kelly allegedly paid women who accused him of sexual abuse to keep their mouths shut. The government described the artist as building a "settlement factory" to keep his victims quiet through the years.
Authorities said that when money was not enough to keep his accusers quiet, he would use his "henchmen" to threaten and even exact revenge on his victims. He is believed to have blackmailed women with nude photographs or embarrassing information to keep their accusations to themselves, the New York Times reported.
Conviction of Sexual Abuse
Kasulis said that Kelly's conviction of his crimes was a mark that would forever label him as a predator who preyed on women and used his fame and fortune to take advantage of his victims. The legal expert said the music artist targeted the young, vulnerable, and the voiceless to satisfy his sexual desires.
The attorney added that Kelly used his inner circle to ensnare underage girls and young men and women for decades. Kasulis said his victims were brave for coming out and sharing their sufferings under Kelly's cruelty.
Attorney Gloria Allred represented three of the six victims at the trial to testify and said that Kelly was the worst predator she had ever pursued. She said that Kelly's conviction was also a message to other celebrities who preyed on others using their fame and fortune.
Kelly did not show any reaction when the verdict was read in the courthouse, his attorney said, despite him not expecting the guilty verdict. Outside the court, Attorney Deveraux Cannick noted that authorities "cherry-picked" evidence to support the guilty narrative, CNN reported.