A jury of seven men and five women reached the verdict on Monday afternoon after less than a day of deliberations.
Kelly remained motionless, eyes downcast as the verdict was read. He had pleaded not guilty to racketeering predicated on criminal conduct including sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping, forced labour, and Mann Act violations involving the coercion and transportation of women and girls in interstate commerce to engage in illegal sexual activity.
Among the charges against him were underage sexual contact with the late musician Aaliyah.
Back in August, Kelly admitted to having “underage sexual contact” with the late R&B singer.
Kelly’s confession comes nearly three decades after the pair were alleged to have been married in an illegal ceremony when Kelly was 27 and Aaliyah was 15. Kelly served as executive producer on Aaliyah’s 1994 debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number, and had previously denied rumours that he and his then-protégé had a sexual relationship.
In a statement to The Independent last month, Thomas A Farinella, one of the lawyers defending Kelly, wrote: “The defence does concede that Mr Kelly had underage sexual contact with Jane Doe #1.”
Kelly’s lawyers had previously attempted to dismiss claims by prosecutors that involved “Jane Doe #1” due to her “unfortunate passing … on 25 August 2001”, citing that “she is legally unavailable”. Aaliyah was killed in a plane crash on 25 August 2001 at the age of 22.
Fans of Aaliyah have been reacting to the news on social media with one fan saying “justice” had finally arrived for the late singer. Another tweeted: “Finally justice for Aaliyah and all of R Kelly’s victims.”
You can see some more of the reactions below.
In 1994, when she was 15, Aaliyah said in an interview that she was “rather close” to Kelly, but denied that the pair had married. Despite her and Kelly’s denials, a 2000 report in The Chicago Sun-Times uncovered evidence that Aaliyah had filed suit in 1997 seeking to have all records of their marriage expunged. The singer told the court that she was not old enough to marry without the consent of her parents.
The report further claimed that Kelly and Aaliyah had married on 31 August 1994, with Aaliyah declaring herself 18 years old on the pair’s marriage certificate. Aaliyah and her parents had the marriage annulled shortly after the ceremony.
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After severing professional ties with Kelly in 1995, Aaliyah went on to have a successful music career, but always shut down questions about her former association with Kelly.
Kelly now faces 10 years to life in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for 4 May 2022.
If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, you can contact your nearest Rape Crisis organisation for specialist, independent and confidential support. For more information, visit their website here.