A federal jury in New York City found R&B artist R. Kelly guilty of racketeering conspiracy and other charges on Monday following his sex trafficking trial.
The jury deliberated for two days. The charges stemmed from accusations that the singer had had an inappropriate relationship with minors, and that his managers and assistants had helped him meet girls and keep them “obedient and silent,” the Associated Press reported.
The conviction marks the culmination of the popular #MuteRKelly campaign, aimed at encouraging people to protest his music and performances. It is also one of the most high-profile condemnations of the #MeToo era, which has seen a number of personalities in entertainment, politics and elsewhere face the consequences of their abusive and destructive behavior.
“We hope this verdict will bring some sense of justice to the brave survivors who have come forward,” the Mute R Kelly group tweeted following the announcement of the verdict.
Here’s more on Kelly and what led to the conviction.
A lifetime documentary in January 2019, Surviving R. Kelly, has surfaced new accounts of his alleged predation of young black women.
Kelly was acquitted in a child pornography case in 2008 and has settled numerous lawsuits. He still faces several other charges in Chicago, including allegations of sexual abuse and the fixing of his 2008 trial, the Chicago Tribune reported. He also faces solicitation charges in Minnesota.
The law firm representing Kelly did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Speaking to a crowd after the verdict, Kelly’s attorney Deveraux Cannick said: “I’m sure we’ll appeal.”
Speaking outside the courthouse, Gloria Allred, who represented several of Kelly’s accusers, referred to the time it took to secure a conviction saying, “We understand that justice is moving at an icy pace,” reported the New York Times. Kelly is expected to be sentenced on May 4, according to the Times. He could face 10 years in prison for life, according to NPR.
The Kelly controversy has had ripple effects in the music and streaming services industry. In 2018, when a backlash against R. Kelly erupted, Spotify initiated a policy of hateful conduct. The music streaming service said it would remove songs or artists from its service or bury them without any promotion, such as banning them from playlists, on the basis of “hateful behavior”. Although R. Kelly was not the only trigger for the rule, his music was the most well-known that fell within the scope of politics.
But Spotify has faced criticism over the new policy. As the world’s largest subscription music service, some have called it in to potentially determine the success or failure of artists’ careers based on performance decisions made behind closed doors without an appeal process. And the rule has also been criticized for its apparent racial bias. Artists known to be affected by the new policy were black, while many white musical artists, some revered as icons, faced allegations of violence or abuse in their past without any repercussions on Spotify.
Less than a month after announcing it, Spotify backtracked, saying it would continue to crack down on hate content itself, but move away from a policy regarding artist conduct.
CNET reporter Joan E. Solsman contributed to this story.
This is breaking news that will be updated.