Disgraced singer R. Kelly spent decades trying to silence his underage victims with threats and bribery before his downfall began with the 2019 release of an explosive documentary that exposed his predatory behavior.
Lifetime’s ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ – which revisited old claims and introduced new ones – opened up a Pandora’s Box of trouble for the singer, who previously avoided jail time after being acquitted of child pornography charges.
That documentary culminated with charges against Kelly that would finally stick; after years of him using his fame and fortune to silence his victims, he was convicted Monday of nine counts of racketeering and sex trafficking.
Soon after the six-part docuseries aired in January 2019, Illinois’ Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx said her office was contacted by two Chicago families who believed their relatives were being involuntarily held by Kelly.
Disgraced R&B star R. Kelly was convicted Monday of racketeering and sex trafficking
She urged other victims to come forward.
Celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Celine Dion began distancing themselves from the Grammy-winning musician, and hotshot women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred brought victim Faith Rogers in front of the cameras to share her story.
On February 14, 2019, lawyer Michael Avenatti said he handed over a 45-minute video of the star having sex with a minor to Chicago prosecutors.
His ex-wife Andrea Kelly, mother of his three children, appeared in the documentary ‘Surviving R. Kelly,’ and said the singer abused her throughout their 13-year marriage
About a week later, on February 22, Kelly was charged by Cook County prosecutors with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse related to four victims as young as 13.
It was the beginning of the end for Kelly, who was soon hit with more sexual assault-related charges in other states after getting away with it for decades.
‘Surviving R. Kelly,’ a six-part mini-series that featured deeply-personal interviews with victims, including his ex-wife Andrea Kelly, who said she was abused throughout their 13-year marriage.
The documentary led a groundswell of public outrage and a criminal investigation in Georgia.
It also led to more victims coming forward, and prosecutors strengthening the case against the singer, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly.
He married Aaliyah during a secret ceremony when she was just 15. He was then 24
Kelly was sentenced for some of his misdeeds Monday, when a federal jury found him guilty following a six-week trial featuring lurid testimony from 50 witnesses.
Some of his accusers were finally able to testify against him during the trial after their hush-money NDAs, which paid up to $1.5million each in exchange for their silence, was overturned by a Brooklyn judge.
Prosecutors said Kelly suppressed allegations against him for years by pressuring accusers into signing non-disclosure agreements in exchange for cash settlements. The NDA settlements were overseen by Susan E Loggans, a personal-injury attorney.
He kept his victims silent for years by paying them hush money and threatening them
But prosecutors in Kelly’s ongoing trial argued that NDAs should not keep victims from speaking out and referred to four other federal cases, including a ruling against Bill Cosby in 2016 when he sued one of his victims Andrea Constand for speaking with prosecutors.
Until now, justice has been elusive for Kelly’s victims, some of whom were threatened or paid into silence.
He was in 2008 acquitted of 18 child pornography charges stemming from a 27-minute sex tape after the girl refused to testify.
Jurors said they couldn’t be certain the girl was underage.
He was acquitted of child porn charges in 2008 after his victim refused to testify
Kelly has for decades faced a multitude of sexual assault allegations; in 1997 Tiffany Hawkins filed the first of many complaints when she alleged he sexually harassed and sexually battered her while she was a minor.
Hawkins was 15 when she began having sex with then-24-year-old Kelly in 1991, she said in a court document.
The case settled in 1998; Hawkins received a payout of $250,000, a fraction of the $10million she sought in damages, the Chicago Sun Times reported.
It wouldn’t have been the last time Kelly engaged in elicit behavior with a minor.
In 1994, he married Aaliyah – the famed singer who was then just 15 – in a secret ceremony. He was 27 at the time, and the marriage was later annulled due to her age.
Some Twitter users wondered why it took decades to convict the singer of sex crimes
Some are questioning why it took so long for Kelly to answer for his behavior.
‘How many [years] of hell did his victims endure until this?’ journalist Julie Bindel tweeted. ‘ We need to ask why he escaped justice for 25 years.’
Added @ipicnews: ‘Everybody knew the allegations – so why has it taken 30 years to get justice?’
User @ECMcLaughlin credited the damning documentary for the conviction.
‘Dream Hampton’s incredible documentary, Surviving R. Kelly, played a major role in this prosecution,’ she tweeted.
‘He is a monstrous pedophile who preyed on Black girls for decades. Justice is long overdue.’