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R. Kelly: Disgraced R&B star guilty of child abuse

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Image shows R. Kelly in 2019Image source, Getty Images

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R. Kelly, pictured in 2019, is on federal trial in Chicago

Disgraced 55-year-old R&B star R. Kelly has been found guilty of child sexual abuse in his second federal trial.

The jury convicted the 55-year-old on six out of 13 counts after a four-week case in his hometown of Chicago.

He was acquitted of fixing a state trial on child pornography charges in 2008.

Last year the Bump n’ Grind singer was convicted of sex trafficking and racketeering in New York. He was later sentenced to 30 years in jail.

Warning: This article contains details readers may find upsetting.

The latest verdict is expected to add years to his incarceration.

The artist, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, was found guilty on Wednesday of three counts of enticing minors for sex and three counts of producing child sexual imagery.

The jury did not find him guilty of obstructing justice relating to his 2008 trial, which ended in acquittal.

Two of his former associates, who were also accused of fixing the 2008 trial, were on trial with him, but were acquitted of all charges.

The 2008 trial centred on a 30-minute video of Kelly abusing a 14-year-old girl. The victim – known by the pseudonym “Jane” – declined to testify in court 14 years ago and jurors ultimately acquitted him on all counts.

But Jane, now 37 years old, testified last month that she is the person in that footage. She said Kelly had sexually abused her hundreds of times before she turned 18.

That tape and two others were shown to jurors during the trial. Four other women accused the singer of abusing them as children, and more than 30 witnesses testified.

During Monday’s closing arguments – which featured graphic descriptions of child abuse – one juror suffered a panic attack. She was dismissed and replaced with an alternate juror.

Assistant US Attorney Elizabeth Pozolo described how the video shows Kelly urinating on the girl.

“That degrading act is forever captured on that video,” she said, adding: “That abuse is forever memorialised.”

“Who does that?” she continued. “Who uses a 14-year-old child to film a video like this? This man. Robert Kelly.”

After the verdict was read Kelly’s lawyer Jennifer Bonjean criticised prosecutors, who she said had “charged counts that they couldn’t win”.

She added that jurors had done their jobs by acquitting Kelly of half the charges.

“Obviously we are not celebrating a win, but are happy the jury looked at each count,” said Ms Bonjean.

At Kelly’s New York trial last September, jurors heard how he trafficked women for sexual abuse between different US states, assisted by managers, security guards and other members of his entourage.

US media have noted that the 2021 conviction marked the first time since the #MeToo movement that black female accusers had taken centre stage in a major sex abuse trial.

The court also heard last year how Kelly had illegally obtained paperwork to marry singer Aaliyah when she was 15 in 1994, seven years before she died in a plane crash. The certificate, leaked at the time, listed Aaliyah’s age as 18. The marriage was annulled months later.

Kelly is a Grammy-winning singer and songwriter who rose from poverty to produce hits like Ignition (Remix) and the hugely popular 1996 anthem I Believe I Can Fly.

He is still facing state charges of aggravated sexual abuse in Illinois and prostitution and solicitation charges in Minnesota.

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