A federal jury has convicted former R&B star R Kelly of several child sexual abuse imagery and sex abuse charges.
Kelly, 55, was found guilty of three counts of child pornography and three counts of child enticement on Wednesday, in a Florida court.
But the jury acquitted him on a fourth pornography count as well as a conspiracy to obstruct justice charge that had accused him of fixing his state child pornography trial in 2008.
He was found not guilty on all three counts of conspiring to receive child pornography and for two further enticement charges.
His two co-defendants were found not guilty on all charges.
Jurors, who deliberated for 11 hours over two days, wrote several questions to the judge on Wednesday - at least one indicating the panellists were grappling with some of the case’s legal complexities.
One asked if they had to find Kelly both enticed and coerced minors, or that he either enticed or coerced them. Over objections from Kelly’s lawyer, the judge said they only need to find one.
At trial, prosecutors painted a picture of Kelly as a master manipulator who used his fame and wealth to reel in star-stuck fans, some of them minors, to sexually abuse then discard them.
Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, was desperate to recover child abuse videos he made and lugged around in a gym bag, witnesses said.
They said he offered up to $1 million to recover missing videos before his 2008 trial, knowing they would land him in legal peril.
The conspiracy to hide his abuse ran from 2000 to 2020, prosecutors said.
Kelly associates Derrel McDavid and Milton Brown were co-defendants at the Chicago trial.
Jurors acquitted McDavid, a longtime Kelly business manager, who was accused of conspiring with Kelly to rig the 2008 trial. Brown, a Kelly associate for years, was acquitted of receiving child pornography.
Kelly has already been convicted of racketeering and sex trafficking in New York and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
In Chicago, a conviction of just one count of child pornography carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years, while receipt of child pornography carries a mandatory minimum of five years.
The three defendants called only a handful of witnesses over four days. Co-defendant McDavid, who was on the stand for three days, may have damaged Kelly’s hopes for acquittal by saying that he now doubts Kelly was truthful when he denied abusing anyone after hearing the superstar’s accusers testify.
In her closing rebuttal, prosecutor Jeannice Appenteng cited testimony that Kelly’s inner circle increasingly focused on doing what Kelly wanted as his fame boomed in the mid-1990s.
“And ladies and gentlemen, what R. Kelly wanted was to have sex with young girls,” she said.
Four Kelly accusers testified, all referred to by pseudonyms or their first names: Jane, Nia, Pauline and Tracy. A fifth accuser, Brittany, did not testify.
A single video, which state prosecutors said showed Kelly abusing a girl of around 14, was the focal point of that trial.
Jane told jurors she was 15 when they first had intercourse. Asked how many times they had sex before she turned 18, she answered quietly: “Uncountable times. … Hundreds.”
Jane, who belonged to a teenage singing group, first met Kelly in the late 1990s when she was in junior high school. She had visited Kelly’s Chicago recording studio with her aunt, a professional singer.
Soon after that meeting, Jane told her parents Kelly was going to be her godfather.
Jane testified that when her parents confronted Kelly in the early 2000s he dropped to his knees and begged them for forgiveness. She said she implored her parents not to take action against Kelly because she loved him.
Another accuser, Pauline, said Jane introduced her to Kelly when they were 14-year-old middle school classmates in 1998.
At Kelly’s Chicago home later that year, Pauline described her shock when she said she first walked in on Kelly and a naked Jane.
She said Kelly told her that everyone has secrets. “This is our secret,” she testified he said.
Pauline told jurors she still cares for Kelly. But, as a 37-year-old mom, she said she now has a different perspective.
“If somebody did something to my kids,” she said, “I’m killing ’em. Period.”