Robert Sylvester Kelly, the R&B singer also known as “R. Kelly,” was convicted today by a federal jury in Brooklyn of all nine counts of a superseding indictment charging him with racketeering predicated on criminal conduct including sexual exploitation of children, forced labor and Mann Act violations involving the coercion and transportation of women and girls in interstate commerce to engage in illegal sexual activity. The verdict followed six weeks of trial.
As proven at trial, for nearly three decades, Kelly was the leader of a criminal enterprise (“the Enterprise”) consisting of himself and an entourage of individuals who served as managers, bodyguards, accountants, drivers, personal assistants and runners for the defendant. As the leader of the Enterprise, Kelly used his fame to recruit women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with him. Kelly identified these girls and women at concerts, and then directed members of the Enterprise to escort them backstage following his musical performances. Kelly exchanged contact information with girls and women so that he and other members of the Enterprise could arrange travel and lodging for them to visit Kelly and engage in the charged illegal sexual conduct.
The evidence at trial included the testimony 45 government witnesses, including more than 10 victims, five of whom are named in the superseding indictment, testimony from employees of the defendant, text messages, video and audio recordings, photographs, phone and travel records, DNA evidence and expert witnesses.
Kelly issued rules that many of his sexual partners were required to follow, including that the women and girls were to call him “Daddy”; they were not permitted to leave their rooms to eat or visit the bathroom without receiving his permission; they were required to wear baggy clothing when not accompanying Kelly to an event; and they were directed to keep their heads down and not look at or speak to other men. Kelly also isolated the women and girls from their friends and family and made them dependent on him for their financial well-being. He required the victims to engage in sex with him and others, and recorded many of the sexual encounters.
Racketeering Act One – Bribery
Kelly bribed a state employee to create an identification card for Jane Doe #1, then 15 years old, so that Kelly could marry Jane Doe #1 because he believed she was pregnant and therefore the marriage could keep him out of jail.
Racketeering Acts Two, Seven and Ten – Sexual Exploitation of a Child – Jane Doe #2, Jane Doe #4 and Jane Doe #5
Kelly coerced Jane Doe #2, Jane Doe #4 and Jane Doe #5 to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing video recordings. Over the course of decades, he made these recordings, and other recordings of sexually explicit conduct, using VHS video cameras, Canon camcorders, iPhones and iPads.
Racketeering Acts Six, Eleven and Thirteen – Forced Labor – Jane Doe #4, Jane Doe #5 and Jane Doe #6
Kelly used the threat of physical harm and physical restraint to ensure that his victims, including Jane Doe #4, Jane Doe #5 and Jane Doe #6, performed sexually at his command. As to Jane Doe #4, he slapped her, choked her and spit on her, before demanding she give him oral sex. As to Jane Doe #5, over a period of years, he spanked her, viciously assaulted her, confined her for periods of days and otherwise manipulated her, to ensure that she would perform for him sexually, including with other women and a man. As to Jane Doe #6, he forced her to give him oral sex. When he did that, there was a gun within Kelly’s reach.
Racketeering Acts Five and Nine – Mann Act Violations – Jane Doe #4 and Jane Doe #5
Between May 2009 and January 2010, Kelly regularly spoke with Jane Doe #4 over the telephone to arrange for Jane Doe #4 to come to his residence in Olympia Fields for the purpose of illegal sexual activity, which was illegal because Jane Doe #4 was too young to consent to sex in Illinois. Similarly, between September 2015 and October 2015, Kelly transported Jane Doe #5, who was then 17 years old, from New York City to Oakland, California for the purpose of illegal sexual activity, as she was too young to consent to sex in California.
Racketeering Acts Eight, Thirteen and Fourteen – Mann Act Violations – Jane Doe #5 and Jane Doe #6
In April 2015, Kelly arranged for Jane Doe #5 to fly from her home in Orlando, Florida, to Los Angeles, California, for the purpose of illegal sexual activity, which was illegal because Kelly knew he had an incurable sexually transmitted disease (“STD”) and did not inform Jane Doe #5 about the STD prior to engaging in sexual intercourse with her. In May of 2017 and again in February of 2018, Kelly arranged for Jane Doe #6 to fly from her home in San Antonio, Texas, to La Guardia Airport in Queens, New York, for the purpose of illegal sexual activity, which again was illegal because Kelly failed to disclose that he had an incurable STD and obtain Jane Doe #6’s consent to engage in sexual intercourse under those circumstances.
Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent-in-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, New York (HSI), announced the verdict.
“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,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Kasulis. “A predator who used his inner circle to ensnare underage teenage girls, and young women and men, for decades, in a sordid web of sex abuse, exploitation and degradation. To the victims in this case, your voices were heard, and justice was finally served. We hope that today’s verdict brings some measure of comfort and closure to the victims.” Ms. Kasulis also thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office for their assistance with the case.
“Robert Kelly is a serial sexual predator who used his fame and musical tours as his personal hunting grounds to find his victims,” stated HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Fitzhugh. “Mr. Kelly ran a criminal enterprise whose mission was to serve his sexual gratification by setting up a complex organization of enablers and handlers. When his victims tried to escape, Mr. Kelly and his accomplices silenced them through bribery, intimidation, and physical violence. The brave survivors who overcame Mr. Kelly’s abuse deserve our upmost respect for telling their stories and bringing an end to his 30-year reign of terror over the young and vulnerable.”
When sentenced, Kelly faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and up to life in prison.
Homeland Security investigations agent Peter Fitzhugh said the verdict ended Kelly’s “decade-long reign of terror over many vulnerable girls, boys and young women.”