R&B singer R. Kelly has been found guilty of sex trafficking, bribery, racketeering, and the sexual exploitation of a child, according to CNN.
Kelly’s conviction was announced on Monday following a five-and-a-half-week federal trial and years of accusations dating back at least as far as 1994 when he illegally married the late singer Aaliyah – then only 15, and he 27.
The ruling stands as the first significant verdict on behalf of survivors who are largely women of color, and one of the music industry’s most prominent sex-abuse trials of all time, according to The New Yorker.
“Today’s guilty verdict forever brands R. Kelly as a predator, who used his fame and fortune to prey on the young, the vulnerable, and the voiceless for his own sexual gratification”…[R. Kelly] is “a predator who used his inner circle to ensnare underage girls and young men and women for decades, in a sordid web of sex abuse, exploitation, and humiliation,” said Jacquelyn Kasulis, Acting U.S. Attorney from the Eastern District of New York.
Prosecutors argued that there were enough people close to Kelly, 54, helping him recruit girls and keep them silent, to constitute a criminal operation, according to the Associated Press.
Attorney Gloria Allred represented three of the six survivors who took the stand at the trial – some of whom gave graphic testimony of the perverted acts Kelly forced upon them as minors.
“First, he used the power of his celebrity to recruit vulnerable underage girls for the purpose of sexually abusing them,” Allred said. “These were not May-October relationships, which is what his defense attorney wanted the jury to believe – these were crimes against children and some adults.”
Kelly now faces anywhere from a decade to life in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for May 4.