On September 14, 2022, a federal jury in Chicago, IL, found Robert Sylvester Kelly (“R. Kelly”) guilty of three counts of producing child pornography and coercing a minor to engage in sexual activity. Kelly was found not guilty of obstruction of justice charges. In a 2008 state trial, Kelly was tried for producing child pornography. When he was found not guilty, jury members explained that it was due to a lack of testimony from the victim. During the 2022 trial, which lasted from August to September, the jury heard testimony from “Jane,” one of Kelly’s victims. By bravely testifying, Jane, and three other victims, helped to ensure that Kelly would be found responsible for his crimes. Kelly is now facing up to 90 years in prison for the Chicago charges.
In October of 2021, we reported that Kelly was accused of abusing and exploiting women and girls long before his New York trial. Twenty-seven years passed between the first abuse allegations raised against Kelly and his guilty verdict. During Kelly’s trial for sex trafficking charges in New York, prosecutors accused Kelly of using his fame to entice and manipulate young girls and women.
In June of 2022, we reported that Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison following his 2021 convictions for sex trafficking and racketeering in federal court in New York. Kelly was charged with violating the Mann Act, a federal law criminalizing the transportation of “any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose.” When determining Kelly’s sentence, the court heard impact statements from seven survivors of Kelly’s abuse.
John R. Lausch Jr., the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois stated after the conviction that the survivors’ “courage to come into this courtroom and to stand before the jury and to reveal the unspeakable things that that man did to them — and then videotaped them — it’s remarkable. Their courage in coming forward, their perseverance, and their resolve to be here years later to tell their story is truly remarkable, and these guilty verdicts vindicate them.”
When asked why she was coming forward after denying his abuse for years, Jane stated, “I no longer want to carry his lies.”
The CSE Institute commends the bravery of both Jane and the other survivors for testifying against their abuser, and for detailing the impact the abuse had on their lives. After all, it is irrefutable that survivor voices will be the ones to promulgate change in the sex trafficking narrative. The CSE Institute also commends the efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois for their dedication to ensuring Kelly is held responsible for his crimes.
Kelly’s sentencing for the Chicago conviction is currently scheduled for February 23, 2023.
The CSE Institute will continue to provide updates as this matter progresses.
All views expressed herein are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law or of Villanova University.