R Kelly has been found guilty of six of the charges he faced in his latest criminal trial in Chicago. Most of those relate to the sexual abuse, in the late 1990s, of the musician’s then fourteen year old goddaughter, referred to as Jane, and his filming of that abuse.
It was a video of Kelly sexually abusing Jane that sparked an earlier investigation in the 2000s into the abuse allegations that had been made against the star. But that time around Jane denied that it was her in the video and declined to cooperate with prosecutors. As a result, Kelly’s defence team were able to raise sufficient doubts about the identities of the people seen on the tape for the musician to be acquitted.
This time Jane cooperated with the prosecution and confirmed on the witness stand that it was her and Kelly seen in the video from the 2008 trial, and others. She had lied about the videos in the 2000s, she said, “because I was afraid to expose Robert – I also did not want that person to be me, I was ashamed”. But she had decided to tell the truth now, she added, because she had become “exhausted” living with Kelly’s lies.
On their second day of deliberations, the jury concluded that Kelly was guilty of three charges of enticing minors to engage in criminal sexual activity and three more in relation to his filming of that sexual abuse of children.
However, he was acquitted on several other charges. That included an additional charge in relation to the filming of child abuse, which stemmed from a video not shown in court because, prosecutors argued, Kelly’s team had successfully “buried” that tape.
He was also acquitted of two further enticement charges, and the charges relating to him and his team allegedly seeking to retrieve leaked sex tapes in the 2000s, which – prosecutors claimed – constituted receiving footage of child abuse and a conspiracy to obstruct justice, by seeking to hinder and skew the earlier criminal investigation and trial.
It was those latter charges regarding the alleged 2000s cover-up that also applied to Kelly’s two co-defendants, his former business manager Derrel McDavid, and Milton ‘June’ Brown, who worked for Kelly for nearly 20 years. They were also acquitted of those charges.
Despite being found guilty of six of the charges, Kelly’s defence lawyer Jennifer Bonjean welcomed the split verdict, saying that she was glad that the jury had considered each of the separate charges on its own merits. According to the Chicago Tribune, she told reporters: “They did their job. They looked at each count separately, and they obviously concluded, as I concluded long ago, this case was overcharged”.
Asked about Kelly’s response to the verdict, Bonjean said that the musician was “used to bad news”, but was relieved that the trial was over. It seems likely that Kelly will appeal the ruling, as he is the earlier ruling in the New York courts, where he was found guilty of running a criminal enterprise in order to access and abuse women and teenagers.
He also faces additional charges in other ongoing criminal cases. With all that in mind, Bonjean added that her client knows he’s got “more fights to fight”.
Speaking for the prosecution, US Attorney John Lausch told reporters that Kelly could face anywhere between ten and 90 years in prison as a result of yesterday’s verdict.
He is already serving a 30 year jail term stemming from last year’s guilty verdict in the New York case. Lausch confirmed that prosecutors will request that whatever sentence is handed down in Chicago be consecutive rather than concurrent to the New York jail term, ie it would take place after rather than alongside the existing sentence.
He explained: “When we have instances where defendants are convicted of committing horrific acts against other individuals, and it’s separate and apart from other horrific acts that he committed against other individuals, we’re asking for that [sentence] to be consecutive”.