R. Kelly Found Guilty of Racketeering After Decades of Sex Abuse Allegations

Prosecutors accused the R&B singer and others of recruiting "women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with Kelly" as far back as 1999

R&B singer and songwriter R. Kelly was found guilty of racketeering charges in a federal courtroom in Brooklyn, N.Y. Monday following decades of sex abuse allegations, prosecutors announced.

The verdict followed a trial that began on Aug. 18 and included 50 witnesses.

CNN reports that during closing arguments, Assistant US Attorney Elizabeth Geddes said Kelly masterminded a scheme to "target, groom and exploit girls, boys and women."

NPR reports Kelly's defense lawyer, Deveraux Cannick, referencing the bombshell documentary Surviving R. Kelly, portrayed the alleged victims as liars, saying, "A lot of people watched Surviving R. Kelly, and unfortunately, a lot of people are now surviving off R. Kelly."

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Prosecutors said in an indictment that Kelly, 54, and his team — including managers, bodyguards and assistants — "traveled throughout the United States and abroad to perform at concert venues…and to recruit women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with Kelly" as far back as 1999.

R. Kelly

According to the indictment, the "I Believe I Can Fly" singer allegedly required his victims to follow "numerous rules" in which they "were not permitted to leave their room without receiving permission, including to eat or go to the bathroom," were "not permitted to look at other men" and "were required to call Kelly 'Daddy.'"

R. Kelly
R. Kelly. Antonio Perez/Getty Images

The indictment also accused Kelly of "engaging in sexual activity with girls under 18 years old," failing to disclose "a sexually transmitted disease Kelly had contracted" and producing child pornography by requesting that underage girls send him photographs.

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"R. Kelly's Enterprise was not only engaged in music; as alleged, for two decades the enterprise at the direction of R. Kelly preyed upon young women and teenagers whose dreams of meeting a superstar, soon turned into a nightmare of rape, child pornography and forced labor," Angel Melendez, special agent in charge from Homeland Security Investigations, said in a statement after Kelly's 2019 indictment.

Musician R. Kelly arrives at the Daley Center for a hearing in his child support case, in Chicago R Kelly Investigation, Chicago, USA - 08 May 2019
R. Kelly at court on May 8, 2019. Matt Marton/AP/REX/Shutterstock

"The musician turned predator allegedly used his stardom to coax some victims into nefarious sex acts while certain members of his enterprise calculatingly facilitated the aberrant conduct...R. Kelly believed he could fly, but it will be justice to see his oppressive wings clipped," Melendez said.

Kelly has maintained his innocence throughout his legal troubles.

He has been in custody since 2019.

This was Kelly's second trial for sex-related charges. He was previously acquitted in 2008 on child pornography charges. Kelly is also facing state and federal charges in Illinois.

Gerald Griggs, an attorney for several of the victims, tells PEOPLE that his clients are satisfied with the verdict.

"It's been a long journey for many of the accusers and their family members," Griggs says. "My clients have been fighting since 2017, and some others have been fighting for 20 years. Today, the voices of black women were heard loud and clear. This is a process to achieve justice, and they are eagerly awaiting sentencing – as well as his three other trials. Today, justice was served for Robert Sylvester Kelly."

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