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Robert Sylvester Kelly finally convicted of sex crimes against minors

R. Kelly’s conviction may mean peace for sexual abuse victims.

In this courtroom sketch, R. Kelly listens from the middle of defense table (white mask, glasses, blue jacket) while the jury foreperson, far right, reads the verdict, Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, in New York.
In this courtroom sketch, R. Kelly listens from the middle of defense table (white mask, glasses, blue jacket) while the jury foreperson, far right, reads the verdict, Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, in New York.
Elizabeth Williams/AP photo

Kelly’s conviction on sex trafficking and racketeering charges will ensure that he will probably spend the rest of his life in jail.

The former R&B superstar, who gained fame and fortune while living in Chicago, was convicted on all counts Monday in New York.

Kelly, 54, still faces sex abuse charges in Illinois and Minnesota.

After beating child pornography charges 13 years ago, when he was accused of videotaping himself having sex and urinating on a 14-year-old girl, Kelly could have gotten the help he needed to overcome his sexual perversion.

But Kelly didn’t choose that path.

He chose to continue using his God-given talent to corrupt the lives of girls young enough to be his granddaughters.

It was a stroke of genius that the feds charged him with running a criminal enterprise because it broke through a wall of silence that was solid as stone in 2008 when Kelly was acquitted on child pornography charges.

This time around, Kelly faced an avalanche of accusers and a culture that is far more willing to expose and pursue charges against sexual predators.

Kelly couldn’t lie or buy his way out of accusations that he knowingly had sex with dozens of underage girls.

And the sign-waving groupies, who flocked to the criminal courts building in 2008 to show their support for a homegrown celebrity, have long dispersed.

Kelly can’t blame his conviction on the influence of the “Me Too Movement” or the powerful expose “Surviving R. Kelly,” even though the documentary renewed interest in Kelly’s inappropriate relationships with minors.

It took time for young Black women to take up their own cause and for older Black women to let them know we have their backs.

That happened when the “Mute R. Kelly” campaign shut down Kelly’s concerts here and abroad. Co-founders Kenyette Barnes and Oronike Odeleye started the movement in 2017 when they found out that Kelly was to perform at a venue in Atlanta.

It also took the persistence of two white men, Jim DeRogatis and Abdon Pallasch, my former colleagues, to expose the predatory nature of Kelly’s sex life.

It wasn’t easy for these men to put such an explosive story out there. Critics condemned them as the “man trying to bring a successful brother down.”

But these courageous journalists gave the victims of Kelly’s stardom a platform at a time when a lot of prominent Black people didn’t want to hear those voices.

Despite the lurid rumors, too many of Kelly’s fans and people who made money off him still saw him as a superstar.

That star has long faded.

After weeks of testimony, a jury in New York concluded Kelly is every bit the monster that dozens of victims say he is.

He is not the only one guilty.

Kelly had a circle of enablers who helped him get access to underage girls for sex.

And everyone who witnessed Kelly’s sexual abuse of minors and said nothing is part of the sex trafficking.

Although Kelly was a superstar, seemingly with the world in his pocket, he falls in the same category as the flashy pimps who hang around bus stations waiting to get their hooks into a homeless youth.

Unfortunately, it took too long for these women, who were lured away as girls by the promise of fame and fortune, to get justice.

And that shame is on the Black community.

Kelly should have been exposed a long time ago.

Hopefully, this long-overdue conviction will give Kelly’s victims some closure and help heal the wounds his sexual abuse caused.

After decades of exploiting the insecurities of Black girls, the disgraced R&B superstar will pay for his crimes.