Allegations that Kelly molested girls began circulating publicly in the 1990s. He was sued in 1997 by a woman who alleged sexual assault and sexual harassment when she was a minor, and later faced criminal child pornography charges related to another girl. In Chicago. A jury there acquitted him in 2008 and settled the suit.
Meanwhile, Kelly continued to sell millions of albums.
A federal court jury in Brooklyn convicted him after hearing he used his entourage of managers and assistants to meet girls and keep them obedient, an operation prosecutors said amounted to a criminal enterprise.
Kelly, whose birth name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, used his “fame, money and popularity” to “systematically prey on children and young women for his own sexual gratification,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing earlier this month.
Several accusers testified that Kelly subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were minors. They alleged that they were ordered to sign confidentiality forms and subjected to threats and punishment, including violent whipping, if they broke what were called “Rob’s rules”.
Some said they believed the videotapes he recorded of them having sex would be used against them if they exposed what was happening.
According to testimony, Kelly gave several accusers herpes without disclosing that he had an STD, forced a teenage boy to join him in having sex with a naked girl who emerged from under a boxing ring in his garage, and recorded a embarrassing video showing a victim smearing feces on her face as punishment for breaking her rules.
Kelly has denied any wrongdoing. She did not testify at her trial, but her attorneys at the time portrayed her accusers as girlfriends and groupies who were not forced to do anything against his will and stayed with him because they enjoyed the benefits of his lifestyle.
Evidence was also presented about a fraudulent marriage scheme hatched to protect Kelly after he feared he impregnated singer Aaliyah in 1994 when she was just 15 years old. Witnesses said they were married in matching track suits using a license that falsely listed her age as 18; she was 27 years old at the time.
Aaliyah worked with Kelly, who wrote and produced her 1994 debut album, Age is nothing more than a number. Their marriage was later annulled and she died in a plane crash in 2001 at age 22.
An earlier defense memo suggested that prosecutors’ arguments for a higher sentence were overstepped by falsely claiming that Kelly participated in paying a government official a bribe to facilitate the illegal marriage.
Kelly has been jailed without bail since 2019. He still faces child pornography and obstruction of justice charges in Chicago, where his trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 15.