When a jury found R&B superstar R Kelly guilty on all counts of sex trafficking, it was seen as a landmark moment in the #MeToo movement.
Now Kelly’s sentence has arrived, and the singer will appear tomorrow before a court in New York.
Here’s what you need to know to get up to speed on the case.
Who is R Kelly?
R Kelly (whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly) is considered one of the most influential R&B artists of his generation, having sold more than 70 million records worldwide.
He is best known for the 1996 hit I Believe I Can Fly, which won three Grammy Awards and was featured on the soundtrack for the movie Space Jam.
But before that, he had developed a reputation for his take on R&B with songs like Bump & Grind and Sex Me.
He has also written and produced for many artists including Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Aaliyah.
What was he convicted of?
In September 2021, Kelly was found guilty on all counts in his New York sex trafficking trial.
Kelly was facing one count of racketeering, essentially running a criminal enterprise, and eight counts of violating the Mann Act, which makes it illegal to bring people across state lines for the purpose of prostitution.
Prosecutors said Kelly took advantage of his fame and charisma to recruit victims, including some drawn from the crowd at his concerts, with the help of people close to him.
At the time, Acting United States Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis said the guilty verdict “forever marks 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.” “.
Several accusers testified in detail during the trial, alleging that Kelly subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were minors.
Witnesses said some victims hoped Kelly could boost their careers, only to find that she demanded their strict obedience and would punish them if they failed.
His alleged victims included the late singer Aaliyah, whom Kelly briefly and illegally married in 1994 when he was 15 years old. Kelly was 27 at the time.
Aaliyah worked with Kelly, who wrote and produced her 1994 debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number. She died in a plane crash in 2001 at age 22.
What happens now?
Kelly’s sentence has come and he faces a minimum term of 10 years.
His attorneys have argued that Kelly, who has been incarcerated since 2019, deserves only a maximum of about 17 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines.
But prosecutors argue that Kelly should spend more than 25 years in prison, saying the 55-year-old remains a “serious danger” to the public, justifying keeping him behind bars until he is 70.
“Indeed, the defendant’s decades of delinquency appear to have been fueled by narcissism and the belief that his musical talents absolved him of any need to conform his conduct, no matter how predatory, harmful, humiliating or abusive to others, to the restrictions of the law. law,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing.
Kelly has repeatedly denied the sexual abuse allegations.
These were not the first accusations against him, right?
Kelly was one of the most high-profile people tried on sex charges during the #MeToo movement, with allegations going back decades.
Journalist Jim DeRogatis first covered the singer’s alleged crimes in 2000.
Back then, court records showed the same pattern: Kelly was using her fame to force underage girls to have sex.
One of them was Tiffany Hawkins, who sued Kelly in 1998 alleging that he abused her and other underage girls.
The reporter also broke the story about Kelly’s infamous videotape, which showed the singer allegedly abusing and urinating on a 14-year-old girl.
That video led to child pornography charges against Kelly.
After a long trial, in which the alleged victim and his parents refused to testify, he was acquitted.
Over the years, many other women filed complaints.
What happens next?
While Kelly will soon be sentenced, this story is far from over.
He also faces federal charges in Chicago for child pornography and obstruction, and state charges in Illinois and Minnesota.
His co-defendants in that Illinois case are two of his former employees.
Although they deny the charges, prosecutors at the September 2021 trial said that Kelly “used [his] inner circle as his means to a criminal end”.
An attorney for some of Kelly’s accusers, Gloria Allred, has also been involved in the cases against Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein.
But after his guilty verdict, she said, “Mr. Kelly is the worst.”
“Even though he thought he could control all of this, he was wrong.”