NEW YORK (Reuters) – R. Kelly was convicted by a federal jury on Monday of racketeering in 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.
Known for the 1996 Grammy-winning smash “I Believe I Can Fly,” Kelly, 54, pleaded not guilty to a racketeering charge and eight counts of violating a federal law making it illegal to transport people across state lines for prostitution.
Prosecutors tried to portray Kelly as a predator who over a quarter century used his fame and charisma to lure women and underage girls into his sphere, and then subject his victims to violent physical and sexual abuse, some of which he recorded.
Defense lawyers countered that Kelly was generous with those around him, and said his accusers are liars looking for a payday through book contracts or the media after their relationships with Kelly or hoped-for music careers never took off.
Deliberations by the seven-man, five-woman jury began on Friday afternoon. The trial began on Aug. 18.