Sinless singer or sexual predator? The trial of R. Kelly

By Sophie Kritzinger


Robert Sylvester Kelly or more commonly known as “R Kelly” is a famous R&B singer who has continuously faced allegations of sexual abuse. Currently under trial in Brooklyn, New York; he has undergone over twenty years of accusations and investigations but still pleads innocence to this day.


His first incidents date back to the 1990s, at the beginning of his singing career, where he reportedly made predatory advancements on underage girls. Since then, numerous other allegations of sexual abuse of women and young girls has been made against him, including ones from his wife Aaliyah when she was only fifteen years old. His first trial began in 2008, after being discharged for claims of child pornography.


So far, Kelly has been charged with numerous counts of racketeering, sexual harassment and bribery. He is currently in court for one charge of racketeering involving the sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping and forced labour; as well as eight counts of violating the Mann Act, which forbids the transportation of anyone across state lines for prostitution purposes. Kelly was first arrested in 2019, but had his trial set back due to the pandemic and several other issues.


Six anonymous women will testify in the court proceedings, who were all associated with and victims of Kelly’s illegal behavior. It was found that R. Kelly physically and psychologically abused over fourteen individuals, of which most were women and many underage. Witnesses have come forward, stating that Kelly had forced them into non consensual sexual activities whilst lying about his age. An example of this comes from the newest witness, “Jane Doe #5” who claims that R Kelly purposefully gave her herpes after being invited to his hotel suite. At the time, the singer was 48 and the young girl was 17, but told Kelly she was 18 years old - the age of consent in Florida - in hopes of getting a job offer alongside him. Witness Jerhonda Pace claims that she was choked into unconciousness, and others confessed that Mr Kelly forced them into many other unconsentual acts: rape, pressurised abortions, video-taped intercourse and bribery. US attorney Elizabeth Geddes states that R.Kelly had pressured his victims into writing accounts which defended him and that “He uses lies, manipulation, threats and physical abuse to dominate his victims”.


Despite Kelly hiding behind his fame and money to avoid charges, if found guilty, he will face 10 years in prison as well as a life sentence. The current jury has retired to contemplate the ruling, leaving the world eagerly awaiting an answer. In the meantime, Kelly will be facing other trials in Chicago and Minnesota for counts of child pornography and sexual abuse.


Sources:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/17/nyregion/sexual-misconduct-r-kelly.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-40635526