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R. Kelly Convicted of Racketeering and Sex Trafficking

R. Kelly Convicted of Racketeering and Sex Trafficking

R&B singer R. Kelley has been found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking. Here's what you should know.

25 Years

R. Kelly has been entrenched in controversy over the last two decades. His wildly successful music career wasn't enough to stop several victims from coming forward with accusations of sexual assault and abuse.


As early as 1996, Kelly faced a civil suit for exploiting a 15-year-old, which was settled out of court and buried in the public consciousness. Then, in 2000, rumors about Kelly began to reach major news publishers like the Chicago Sun-Times. According to the article, Chicago police investigated claims that Kelly was in a sexual relationship with a minor, but the victim would not cooperate with investigators.


Then, in 2001, a sex tape featuring Kelly and an unnamed young woman was released to the press as people speculated whether the girl was underage. At this time, Kelly's career eclipsed the increasing number of allegations against him until 2002. Indicted for 21 charges of child pornography but was released on bail.


The next few years are rocky as Kelly's fame begins to wane and more civil suits are settled quietly out of court. However, things take a turn for the worst when Kelly walks out of an interview with the Huffington Post after the interviewer asks for clarity on allegations of misconduct.

At this point, there are too many red flags to ignore, and BuzzFeed publishes an article alleging that Kelly had a sex cult where he lured young girls to stay with him and cut ties with their families. This breaks open the floodgates, and the allegations don't let up. By 2019, a documentary about Kelly's long history of exploitation is released, sparking outrage.

Viewers responded to the documentary by calling for an investigation into these explosive claims. Kelly is indicted on new charges related to yet another sex tape featuring a minor. After his indictment and subsequent time in prison, Kelly is released and faces a long three years in and out of court.


New York Judge Ann Donnelly found Kelly guilty of sex trafficking, sexual exploitation of a child, bribery, racketeering, and sex trafficking.

Why Racketeering?

Most racketeering cases involve mob leaders or criminal organizations, but in R. Kelly's case, the charge refers to something more sinister. In general, racketeering applies to a scheme or criminal enterprise, and in this case it includes Kelly's sex trafficking and prostitution enterprise that went on for years and crossed state lines.

This racketeering charge is a pandora's box of criminal acts, including kidnapping, child pornography, forced labor, and more. But why not charge him with these crimes separately? Why racketeering?

The methodology behind this strategy is simple: it's more dynamic and all-encompassing. Prosecutors can provide the court with a birds-eye view of Kelly's long history of manipulation, exploitation, and abuse in a way that includes all the victims and yields more evidence.

Sex trafficking and/or abuse cases are complicated, and it's easy to poke holes in the story or discredit victims. Racketeering, however, does not carry the shameful stigma that sexual exploitation does. Instead, it establishes a timeline and supplies evidence in a systematic way that the jury can understand.

What Happens Next

Now that he has been officially convicted, Kelly awaits sentencing and a second federal trial in Illinois, where he committed a portion of the crimes.


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