R. Kelly convicted of several child pornography charges, cleared of litigation


A federal jury on Wednesday convicted R. Kelly of several child pornography and sexual abuse charges in his hometown of Chicago, inflicting another legal blow on a singer who was one of the biggest R&B stars in the world.

Kelly, 55, was found guilty of three counts of child pornography and three counts of child seduction.

But the jury acquitted him on a fourth charge of pornography and one charge of conspiracy to obstruct justice. cost.

His two co-defendants were found not guilty of all charges.

Jurors wrote several questions to the judge on Wednesday, at least one of which indicated the panelists were grappling with some of the legal complexities of the case.

One of them asked whether they should find Kelly both lured and coerced minors, or whether he seduced or coerced them. After objections from Kelly’s lawyer, the judge said they only needed to find one.

During the trial, prosecutors tried to paint a picture of Kelly as a master manipulator who used his fame and fortune to bring in star-stuck fans, some of them underage, for sexual abuse and then throw them out.

Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, was desperate for child porn videos he shot and lugged around in a gym bag, witnesses said. They said he offered up to $1 million to get missing videos back before his 2008 trial, knowing they would put him in legal jeopardy. The conspiracy to hide his abuse ran from 2000 to 2020, prosecutors said.

Kelly associates Derrel McDavid and Milton Brown were co-defendants in the Chicago trial. Jurors acquitted McDavid, a longtime Kelly business executive, who was charged with conspiring with Kelly to manipulate the 2008 trial. Brown, a Kelly employee for many years, was acquitted of receiving child pornography.

Kelly faced 13 counts. A conviction for only one count of child pornography carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years, while receipt of child pornography carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years. Judges may order that defendants previously convicted in separate cases serve their new sentences concurrently with or after the first term has been fully served. Federal inmates must serve at least 85% of their sentences.

During closing arguments Tuesday, Kelly’s attorney Jennifer Bonjean compared the government’s testimony and evidence to a cockroach and his case to a bowl of soup.

If a cockroach falls into the soup, she said, “You don’t just take the cockroach out and eat the rest of the soup. You throw the whole soup away,” the judges said.

“There are just too many cockroaches,” she said of the prosecutor’s case.

The three defendants called only a handful of witnesses over four days. Co-defendant McDavid, who spent three days in the dock, may have dashed Kelly’s hopes of acquittal by saying he now doubts Kelly was fair when he denied abusing anyone after hearing the superstar’s accusers testify.

In her final rebuttal, District Attorney Jeannice Appeneng cited testimony that Kelly’s inner circle became increasingly focused on doing what Kelly wanted as his 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 prosecutors testified, all referred to by pseudonyms or by their first names: Jane, Nia, Pauline and Tracy. Some cried while describing the abuse, but otherwise spoke calmly and confidently. A fifth prosecutor, Brittany, did not testify.

Kelly sat close by in a suit and face mask, often averting his eyes and looking down as his accusers spoke.

A dozen die-hard Kelly fans regularly attended the trial. On at least one occasion during a break, several hand signs of a heart made at Kelly. He smiled back.

Jane, 37, was the government’s key witness and key figure in the indictment, which accused Kelly of using threats and payouts to make her lie in front of a grand jury before his trial in 2008 and ensure that she and her parents don’t. would testify.

A single video, in which prosecutors said Kelly assaulted a girl around 14, was the focal point of that trial.

On the witness stand At the end of August, Jane stood there for two days, tugging at a necklace and dabbing her eyes with a tissue when she first said publicly that the girl in the video was 14 and the man was Kelly, who are around 30. been.

Some jurors in the 2008 trial said they should acquit Kelly because the girl in the video did not testify. At the federal trial in Chicago, Jane said she lied to a state jury in 2002 when she said she wasn’t in the video, saying that one of her reasons for lying was that she cared about Kelly and didn’t want him in. issues.

Jane told the judges she was 15 when they first had intercourse. When asked how many times they had sex before turning 18, she calmly replied, “Countless times. … Hundreds.”

Jane, who belonged to a teenage singing group, first met Kelly in the late 1990s when she was in high school. She had visited Kelly’s recording studio in Chicago with her aunt, a professional singer. Shortly after that meeting, Jane told her parents that Kelly would be her godfather.

Jane testified that when her parents confronted Kelly in the early 2000s, he fell to his knees and begged their forgiveness. She said she begged her parents not to take any action against Kelly because she loved him.

Defense attorneys suggested that a desire for money and fame led some government witnesses to incriminate Kelly, and they accused several people of trying to blackmail him. They also suggested that at least one of his accusers was 17 — the age of majority in Illinois — when Kelly started chasing her for sex.

Bonjean pleaded with jurors not to accept the prosecution’s portrayal of her client as “a monster.”

“Mr. Kelly could also be a victim,” she said in her opening statement.

Prosecutors played jury clips from three videos Jane said contained. Court officials placed opaque screens around the jurors so that journalists and spectators could not see the videos or the jurors’ reactions.

But the sound was audible. In one video, the girl can be heard calling the man “daddy” repeatedly. At one point she asks, “Daddy, do you still love me?” The man gives her sexually explicit instructions.

Prosecutors have said Kelly shot the video that was also evidence in the 2008 trial in a log cabin-themed room in his North Side Chicago home around 1998.

Another accuser, Pauline, said Jane introduced her to Kelly in 1998 when they were 14-year-old classmates. . She said Kelly told her everyone has secrets. “This is our secret,” she testified.

Pauline told the judges that she still cares about Kelly. But as a 37-year-old mother, she said she now has a different perspective.

‘If someone has hurt my children,’ she said, ‘I will kill them. Point.’

Source link