Music legend R. Kelly convicted of racketeering and sex trafficking could face up to 40 years in jail

Jurors have found R&B singer R. Kelly guilty of racketeering, including acts of bribery and sexual exploitation of a child, along with separate charges of sex trafficking.

Racketeering became a federal crime in 1970 under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, and the charge is best known as a tool to prosecute organized crime that affects interstate commerce. At the center of any racketeering case is the “enterprise,” the group entity carrying out the illegal conduct, such as the mafia.

In this case, the enterprise is Kelly and his entourage, as well as his “managers, bodyguards, drivers, personal assistants and runners,” according to the superseding indictment. Kelly is described as the leader of the enterprise.

Kelly’s defense attorney has criticized this aspect of the case against his client.

“We look forward to the truth and the facts coming to light as the defense will continue to vigorously defend Mr. Kelly,” defense attorney Thomas Farinella said in a statement.before the trial. “After all, the RICO ‘Enterprise’ is based on a series of independent relationships and events that the government is trying to patch together like different types of fabrics and trying to pass it off as silk.”

Kelly was charged with racketeering that has 14 underlying acts: 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. The alleged crimes stretch from 1994 up to December 2018 and are based on incidents involving six anonymous “Jane Does,” several of whom were underage.

To convict him of racketeering, prosecutors have to prove that Kelly committed at least two of these 14 underlying acts. Jurors found prosecutors had proven all but two of the 14 of them.

How racketeering benefits prosecutors: Legal analyst Elie Honig said it allowed them to charge a broader pattern of conduct that stretches over years and involves many participants. In addition, a racketeering case combines multiple victims’ stories into one trial, which can create a #MeToo-like dynamic. The trials of Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein, though not racketeering, showed that having more witnesses testify about a pattern of alleged sexual misconduct can have a powerful impact on a jury.

Moira Penza, a former federal prosecutor who led the racketeering case against the cult-like group Nxivm, said the racketeering charge makes this trial very different from Kelly’s previous one.

“Having the RICO (racketeering) charge, in particular, allows prosecutors to really give this aerial view over a long period of time at a very high level of who R. Kelly and his enterprise are, and the types of crimes that they’ve been committing and the ways in which they’ve committed those crimes – that’s a very different case,” Penza said. “You have a lot more evidence that is going to come in and be able to corroborate what the victims are saying.”

Attorney Gloria Allred, who represented three of the six victims who testified in the case, said R. Kelly is the “worst” predator she has ever pursued.

“First, he used the power of his celebrity to recruit vulnerable underage girls for the purpose of sexually abusing them. These were not May-October relationships, which is what his defense attorney wanted the jury to believe — these were crimes against children and some adults,” Allred said.

“Second, to use the power of his business enterprise and many of his inner circle employees to assist him and enable him in his plan and his scheme to lure his victims to him, isolate them, intimidate them, control them, indoctrinate them, punish them, shame them, and humiliate them. All of which made Mr. Kelly more powerful and more dangerous than many other sexual predators who operate without a network of financial and businesses to support and enable them,” Allred added.

She said another reason was that the government proved Kelly had genital herpes and did not disclose that information to victims or wear contraception to protect them.

“As a result, many of his victims contracted this STD from him and will be forced to suffer from it for the rest of their lives,” Allred said.

The fourth reason, Allred said was in many cases “after grooming, isolating, and intimidating his child victims, recorded them being sexually abused and humiliated by them.”

“He directed these videos and produced them, not only for his own sexual gratification but, in some instances, for the purpose of using these videos to silence and threaten his victims with public exposure of these tapes if they ever revealed what he had done to them. These tapes were not sex tapes: They were child pornography, which is a crime,” she said.

Allred said she was proud of her clients who spoke up and told their truth during the trial.

“R Kelly thought that he could get away with all of this but he didn’t because despite the fact that he thought he could control all of his victims, he was wrong,” Allred said.

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