Accusers of R Kelly celebrated on Monday night after the disgraced star was convicted in Brooklyn federal court of multiple sex trafficking charges.
The R&B star, whose legal name is Robert Kelly, was found guilty of all nine counts, including racketeering based on sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping, forced labor, and other charges.
The guilty verdict was handed down after just nine hours of deliberations by a jury of seven men and five women at Brooklyn federal court on Monday, with women who took the stand against Kelly speaking of their relief over the result.
Jerhonda Johnson Pace, 28, celebrated news of the verdict on her Instagram page on Monday. She posted a story on the app showing the caption: ‘Verdict? Guilty.’
She said that it had been difficult to speak out against the influential singer, but added: ‘However, I DID IT.’
The singer Sparkle, whose real name is Stephanie Edwards and who went public with allegations that R Kelly sexually assaulted her niece, who was underage when she was filmed being assaulted and urinated on by the R&B star.
‘We’re not in contact, but I’m definitely thinking of her and hoping that she’s okay,’ Edwards said of her niece following the verdict.
Another woman who took the stand, identified only as Sonja, told the Daily Beast that she was ‘happy with the verdict and thankful that the jury listened to us.’
Another R Kelly accuser, Kitti Jones, also celebrated a ‘small victory’ on Monday, although her claims did not form part of the case against Kelly.
The 54-year-old Kelly faces up to 100 years in prison – 20 years for racketeering, 10 for each of the sex trafficking convictions. Sentencing is expected to take place on May 4, 2022.
Kelly has remained in custody after being denied bail in his New York City case in October 2019, and after prosecutors accused the R&B singer of exploiting his stardom over a quarter-century to lure women and underage girls for sex.
Jerhonda Pace posted a story on the app showing the caption: ‘Verdict? Guilty.’
Pace also posted an image to her timeline showing a graphic that read: ‘Today, my voice was heard.’
Pace also posted a photo of Joycelyn Savage, who lived with R. Kelly for years as one of his girlfriends and who publicly came out in support of the disgraced singer even as her family pleaded with her to come home. ‘Still hopeful that she will go back home to her family,’ Pace wrote of Savage on Monday
R. Kelly (pictured in 2019) was found guilty of all nine counts of racketeering and sex trafficking by a federal jury on Monday during his sex trafficking trial where prosecutors accused the R&B singer of exploiting his stardom over a quarter-century to lure women and underage girls into his orbit for sex
Pace, who accused R Kelly of forcing her to perform oral sex on him when she was just 16 years old, also posted an image to her timeline showing a graphic that read: ‘Today, my voice was heard.’
‘G U I L T Y,’ she wrote in the caption of the post.
‘Today the jury found R. Kelly guilty. For years, I was trolled for speaking out about the abuse that I suffered at the hands of that predator,’ Pace wrote on Monday.
‘People called me a liar and said I had no proof. Some even said I was speaking out for money.
‘Speaking out about abuse is not easy, especially when your abuser is high-profile.
‘However, I DID IT.’
What was R Kelly on trial for in New York?
R Kelly stood trial Brooklyn federal court after he was accused of being the ringleader of a sex ring involving women and underage girls and boys.
The charges were first brought in a five-count superseding indictment in Brooklyn federal court in July 2019.
In March 2020, he was slapped with additional charges upgrading the case to a nine-count indictment.
The charges relate to allegations involving six alleged victims – five women named as Jane Does in the indictment and the singer Aaliyah. These charges are:
ONE COUNT OF RACKETEERING – GUILTY
The racketeering charge includes 14 underlying acts including: one act of bribery, three acts of sexual exploitation of a child, one act of kidnapping, three acts of forced labor and six acts of violating the Mann Act.
Racketeering charges are used where there is an ‘enterprise’, mob or mafia running organized crime operations.
In this case, Kelly is accused of running a racketeering ‘enterprise’ for two decades made up of his ‘inner circle’ of managers, bodyguards and other employees who would help him recruit women, girls and boys for him to sexually exploit and traffic them around the US.
To convict Kelly on the racketeering charge, jurors had to find him guilty of at least two of the 14 acts.
EIGHT COUNTS OF VIOLATING THE MANN ACT – GUILTY
The Mann Act is a federal law that makes it illegal to traffic people across state lines for prostitution or illegal sexual activity.
Four of these charges relate to an incident involving Jane Doe #5 in 2015 while the other four involve Jane Doe #6 in separate incidents in May 2017 and February 2018.
Three of these charges involve Kelly allegedly exposing the two women to herpes without informing them.
Pace said her coming forward ’caused a domino effect and so many people came forward.’
‘There are still some people that haven’t came forward. I’m so grateful to be a voice for those who didn’t have the courage,’ she wrote.
‘I’m thankful to stand with those who were brave enough to speak up.
‘I’m happy to FINALLY close this chapter of my life. I testified and the jury found him guilty.
‘No matter what you think of me or how you feel about things; today, I MADE HISTORY.
‘I wanna see you be brave.’
Pace also posted a photo of Joycelyn Savage, who lived with R Kelly for years as one of his girlfriends and who publicly came out in support of the disgraced singer even as her family pleaded with her to come home.
‘Still hopeful that she will go back home to her family,’ Pace wrote of Savage on Monday.
‘She may not realize it now, but she also survived R. Kelly.’
Another woman who took the stand, identified only as Sonja, shared her delight at Kelly’s conviction with the Daily Beast.
She said she was ‘happy with the verdict and thankful that the jury listened to us.’
‘I’ve been hiding from Robert Kelly in fear, due to threats made against me, and I’m ready to start living my life free from fear, and to start the healing process,’ Sonja said.
The singer Sparkle, whose real name is Stephanie Edwards, knew R Kelly after he produced her first album. In 1997, she introduced her than-12-year-old niece to Kelly in the hope that he would help her aspiring rap career.
But in 2001 she saw the infamous video in which R Kelly is seen having sex with – and also urinating on – her niece. Edwards then called the police.
A year later, she gave a radio interview in which she went public with the allegation. In 2008, she also testified at R Kelly’s trial after he was charged with child pornography. He was eventually acquitted.
In 2019, Edwards was one of the women featured in the Lifetime documentary Surviving R Kelly.
She told The Cut on Monday that she wept after hearing of the verdict. She said her niece’s family has not spoken to her in more than a decade.
Edwards said she now feels vindicated after she was among the first to accuse Kelly of sex crimes at a time when few believed her.
‘At the first trial, nobody believed me,’ she told The Cut.
In 2001, the singer Sparkle (seen above in the 2019 Lifetime series Surviving R Kelly), whose real name is Stephanie Edwards, went public with allegations that R Kelly sexually assaulted her niece, who was underage when she was filmed being assaulted and urinated on by the R&B star
Since coming forward with the allegations that R Kelly assaulted her niece, Edwards said the niece and her family have cut ties with her. She believes R Kelly likely paid them to keep quiet
‘I hope all the girls, boys, and women affected by him are also breathing a sigh of relief.’
She added: ‘I was the Lone Ranger at first, and now I have my riders behind me.’
Edwards said that her niece has not been in contact with her since she went public with the allegation. The niece and her immediate family are believed to have been paid some $2million to keep quiet about the incident.
Several of R Kelly’s alleged underage victims were paid in similar fashion, it is believed.
‘We’re not in contact, but I’m definitely thinking of her and hoping that she’s okay,’ Edwards said of her niece.
‘Even if she doesn’t feel the same about me. I’m thinking of her first and then of all the others who were affected.’
She described to The Cut how her family reacted when she made them aware of the infamous tape.
‘I called my family, and initially my niece’s parents wanted to see it,’ Edwards said.
‘Then they changed their minds and stopped responding to me. Our relationship was done. Finito.’
She added: ‘I’m assuming Robert had gotten to them, but I’ll never really know what happened.
‘So I called the police. They took my statement, and then basically told me their hands were tied if my sister and brother-in-law didn’t want to speak.
‘I was trying to grasp, “How are you guys not getting this? This person has violated your 14-year-old daughter. Where are you guys?”
‘I have five siblings and except for one brother, there was basically no more communication with most of my family for the next ten years.’
Last month, Pace took the witness stand and testified against Kelly at his trial.
She recalled how he struck up a relationship with her after meeting at his 2008 child pornography trial. Pace was just 14 years of age at the time.
Pace testified that she first met Kelly when she was just 14-years-old when she attended every day of his 2008 child pornography trial, in which he was found not guilty due to lack of sufficient evidence.
When Pace was 16 she said she went to a party and met up with Kelly, claiming she was 19-years-old.
She said Kelly remembered her from court and invited her back to his mansion a few days later where he told her to put on her swimsuit while he sat on a lounge chair and for her to walk back and forth while removing her swimsuit.
She said the two then began kissing and he performed oral sex on her but she ‘felt uncomfortable’ lying about her age, so she told him she was actually 16 and showed him her state ID as proof, and Kelly asked ‘What is that supposed to mean?’ Buzzfeed News reported.
Pace said Kelly told her to keep saying she was 19 and ‘act 21’ and that he ‘was going to train me on how to please him sexually.’
When she told him she was a virgin, she said Kelly responded ‘that’s good’ and told her to lie about her age to other people.
Pace said she continued to see and have sex with Kelly over the next several months and that Kelly would often film their encounters.
Jerhonda Johnson Pace (seen above in Chicago in February 2019), 28, celebrated news of the verdict against R Kelly on Monday
He also allegedly made Pace follow a strict set of rules, including making her wear baggy clothes, having her call him ‘Daddy,’ and forbidding her from eating food or using the bathroom without his permission, Buzzfeed reported.
Pace said she was forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement, and a letter full of false admissions that claimed she had stolen money and jewelry from him, which prosecutors allege was a form of blackmail by Kelly.
Pace said she normally abided by Kelly’s rules, but when she didn’t he would be punished.
She testified about an incident when she said she preferred the Cleveland Cavaliers to Kelly’s favorite team, the Chicago Bulls and he allegedly backhanded her across the face and told her she was being disrespectful.
In another instance, Pace said Kelly wanted her to use a sex toy on him while they had sex, and she hesitated, telling him she was ‘taught that was gay,’ and he slapped her in the face, telling her ‘I’m not f**king gay,’ before making her give him oral sex while using the sex toy on him.
On the final day she spent in Kelly’s house in 2010, Pace said she was distracted and didn’t immediately acknowledge Kelly’s presence when he entered and Kelly slapped her and choked her until she passed out. ‘
After that he spat in her face and told her to put her head down in shame before making her perform oral sex on him.
Pace said Kelly ejaculated on her face and she wiped Kelly’s spit and semen on a blue T-shirt that was presented in court Wednesday as evidence.
R. Kelly (seen above in a court sketch from Monday while listening to the verdict at Brooklyn federal court), the disgraced R&B singer, was convicted of sex trafficking charges. He faces decades in prison
Pace said after that incident she made up an excuse to leave the mansion and never returned.
Another R Kelly accuser, Kitti Jones, also celebrated a ‘small victory’ on Monday, although her claims did not form part of the case against Kelly.
Prosecutors say Robert Sylvester Kelly, 54, ran a Chicago-based criminal enterprise for nearly three decades and that he used to ‘target, groom and exploit girls, boys and women’ for unwanted sex and mental torment.
The witnesses said Kelly subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were underage. He has denied any wrongdoing.
The acts presented during disturbing testimony included bribery, kidnapping, forced labor rape, druggings, imprisonment and child pornography.
Kelly’s (pictured in court on September 27 as the jury foreman reads the guilty verdict) guilty verdict follows 21 days of evidence including 50 witnesses and hours of searing testimony featuring accusations of rape, druggings, imprisonment and child pornography
Heavily pregnant R Kelly accuser Jerhonda Pace broke down in tears in court on August 19 as she read out a passage from her own 2010 journal, detailing how the R&B star allegedly slapped her, spat in her face and choked her
Jurors in R Kelly’s trial heard testimony from the woman who said the R&B star lured her to his mansion when she was a 16-year-old virgin, made her call him ‘daddy’ and choked her until she passed out on day two of his federal sex abuse trial in New York. R Kelly left and Jerhonda Pace right
Jones is the former Dallas radio DJ who gave up her career to be with R Kelly before the pop singer physically and sexually abused her for two years.
‘We got justice today,’ Jones, who did not take the witness stand, told The Daily Beast.
‘I wouldn’t say I now have closure, because in the end none of us will get our time back. But this is a small victory.’
Jones accused Kelly of physically abusing her and forcing her to have sex with other women.
Kelly has denied the allegations. Jones’ accusations did not factor into the trial.
Nonetheless, Jones said she was pleased with the result.
‘Twelve people who had no connection to any of us and probably didn’t watch or follow our stories individually had an open mind and listened and took our side,’ Jones said.
‘I allowed myself a few hours to get my tears out today – and now I am just celebrating this win.
‘But we have a long way to go, this isn’t over.’
Another R Kelly accuser, Kitti Jones, also celebrated a ‘small victory’ on Monday. Jones is the former Dallas radio DJ who gave up her career to be with R Kelly before the pop singer physically and sexually abused her for two years
Jones (pictured above in Arlington, Texas in 2018) alleges that during her two-year relationship with R Kelly, the singer forced her to have sexual intercourse with other women. Kelly has denied the allegations, which were not factored into the trial
Jones told Rolling Stone in 2017 that she met Kelly in 2011 at an after-party for a concert in Dallas – and that the two quickly began texting regularly.
About two months later, she claims that Kelly paid for the Dallas-based radio DJ to visit him in Denver. Almost as soon as she arrived, Jones said he immediately started masturbating in front of her.
Later that year she said she began falling for Kelly and left her job to move in with him in Chicago.
But several months later, she says she became suicidal after she endured abuse from the singer.
Jones says Kelly had made references to having ‘raised’ other women, but didn’t tell her that he was in relationships with them – which she alleges that he was.
Nearly as soon as she uprooted her whole life, Jones claims that Kelly started to enforce strict rules similar to those that other women have alleged.
She said he forced her to wear baggy sweatpants and became controlling – making her update him on her whereabouts constantly.
In November of 2011, less than year after the two first met, she said he became abusive.
‘He would start kicking me, telling me I was a stupid b**** [and] don’t ever get in his business,’ she told Rolling Stone.
Soon after that, she recalled that Kelly moved her into his recording studio with two of his other girlfriends. There, she says he went to great lengths to ensure the three women never found out about each other.
‘If you disclose your relationship with him [to another woman] – how long you’ve known him or whatever – you can get beat,’ Jones alleged.
‘He doesn’t want in any way for one girl to feel more like ‘Oh we’re close than you guys.’ Even though we knew deep down we’re all living there, we didn’t address it.’
Jones said he often took away her phone or starved her as a punishment if she didn’t follow his strict orders.
Then, in 2013, things took a turn for the worse.
Jones claims that in March of that year Kelly brought another of his girlfriends over to where he was keeping her and forced her to perform oral sex on Jones.
‘He told me, ‘I raised her. I’ve trained this b****. This is my pet,” she told Rolling Stone.
Around that time she claims Kelly also started forcing her to have intercourse with other women – and says he would threaten her if she said no.
Jones described that period as ‘six months of hell,’ and said that as it came to an end she found herself contemplating suicide.
‘If I wasn’t getting slapped, I wasn’t eating or my phone was gone,’ she claims.
‘I just said, ‘I’m gonna kill myself and it’s gonna be his fault. I can either kill myself or kill him. What use am I when I walk out of here?”
So finally, at her lowest point, she claims she finally left Kelly’s clutches on an afternoon she told him she was taking her son shopping in Dallas.
Attorney Gloria Allred addresses the media following R. Kelly’s guilty verdict, calling him the worst sexual predator she has come across in her decades representing victims
How R. Kelly was finally brought to justice: One-time R&B superstar used his fame to get away with decades of abuse against young women and men – until harrowing 2019 documentary saw allegations snowball
By Michelle Thompson For Dailymail.Com
Disgraced singer R. Kelly spent decades trying to silence his underage victims with threats and bribery before his downfall began with the 2019 release of an explosive documentary that exposed his predatory behavior.
Lifetime’s ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ – which revisited old claims and introduced new ones – opened up a Pandora’s Box of trouble for the singer, who previously avoided jail time after being acquitted of child pornography charges.
That documentary culminated with charges against Kelly that would finally stick; after years of him using his fame and fortune to silence his victims, he was convicted Monday of nine counts of racketeering and sex trafficking.
Soon after the six-part docuseries aired in January 2019, Illinois’ Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx said her office was contacted by two Chicago families who believed their relatives were being involuntarily held by Kelly.
Disgraced R&B star R. Kelly was convicted Monday of racketeering and sex trafficking
She urged other victims to come forward.
Celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Celine Dion began distancing themselves from the Grammy-winning musician, and hotshot women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred brought victim Faith Rogers in front of the cameras to share her story.
On February 14, 2019, lawyer Michael Avenatti said he handed over a 45-minute video of the star having sex with a minor to Chicago prosecutors.
His ex-wife Andrea Kelly, mother of his three children, appeared in the documentary ‘Surviving R. Kelly,’ and said the singer abused her throughout their 13-year marriage
About a week later, on February 22, Kelly was charged by Cook County prosecutors with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse related to four victims as young as 13.
It was the beginning of the end for Kelly, who was soon hit with more sexual assault-related charges in other states after getting away with it for decades.
‘Surviving R. Kelly,’ a six-part mini-series that featured deeply-personal interviews with victims, including his ex-wife Andrea Kelly, who said she was abused throughout their 13-year marriage.
The documentary led a groundswell of public outrage and a criminal investigation in Georgia.
It also led to more victims coming forward, and prosecutors strengthening the case against the singer, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly.
Jacquelyn Kasulis, the interim U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York who prosecuted the case, said the verdict ‘forever brands 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’
He married Aaliyah during a secret ceremony when she was just 15. He was then 24
Kelly was sentenced for some of his misdeeds Monday, when a federal jury found him guilty following a six-week trial featuring lurid testimony from 50 witnesses.
Some of his accusers were finally able to testify against him during the trial after their hush-money NDAs, which paid up to $1.5million each in exchange for their silence, was overturned by a Brooklyn judge.
Prosecutors said Kelly suppressed allegations against him for years by pressuring accusers into signing non-disclosure agreements in exchange for cash settlements. The NDA settlements were overseen by Susan E Loggans, a personal-injury attorney.
He kept his victims silent for years by paying them hush money and threatening them
But prosecutors in Kelly’s ongoing trial argued that NDAs should not keep victims from speaking out and referred to four other federal cases, including a ruling against Bill Cosby in 2016 when he sued one of his victims Andrea Constand for speaking with prosecutors.
Until now, justice has been elusive for Kelly’s victims, some of whom were threatened or paid into silence.
He was in 2008 acquitted of 18 child pornography charges stemming from a 27-minute sex tape after the girl refused to testify.
Jurors said they couldn’t be certain the girl was underage.
He was acquitted of child porn charges in 2008 after his victim refused to testify
Kelly has for decades faced a multitude of sexual assault allegations; in 1997 Tiffany Hawkins filed the first of many complaints when she alleged he sexually harassed and sexually battered her while she was a minor.
Hawkins was 15 when she began having sex with then-24-year-old Kelly in 1991, she said in a court document.
The case settled in 1998; Hawkins received a payout of $250,000, a fraction of the $10million she sought in damages, the Chicago Sun Times reported.
It wouldn’t have been the last time Kelly engaged in elicit behavior with a minor.
In 1994, he married Aaliyah – the famed singer who was then just 15 – in a secret ceremony. He was 27 at the time, and the marriage was later annulled due to her age.
Some Twitter users wondered why it took decades to convict the singer of sex crimes
Some are questioning why it took so long for Kelly to answer for his behavior.
‘How many [years] of hell did his victims endure until this?’ journalist Julie Bindel tweeted. ‘ We need to ask why he escaped justice for 25 years.’
Added @ipicnews: ‘Everybody knew the allegations – so why has it taken 30 years to get justice?’
User @ECMcLaughlin credited the damning documentary for the conviction.
‘Dream Hampton’s incredible documentary, Surviving R. Kelly, played a major role in this prosecution,’ she tweeted.
‘He is a monstrous pedophile who preyed on Black girls for decades. Justice is long overdue.’