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R. Kelly Found Guilty Of All Counts In Sex Trafficking, Racketeering Trial

By Dana Kozlov and Alice Gainer

NEW YORK (CBS Chicago/CBSNewYork) -- Singer R. Kelly faces life in prison after being found guilty on all counts Monday afternoon in his New York sex crimes trial.

As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported, the guilty verdict in the case ends an ugly chapter in the singer's life. After years of whispers and accusations – and a 2008 child pornography trial in which he ended up being acquitted – a jury convicted him on nine counts in an explosive sex trafficking trial.

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As Alice Gainer of CBS 2 in New York reported, R. Kelly remained motionless with his eyes down and had no reaction as the verdict was read. He wore a facemask and glasses.

The jury in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn deliberated for a total of about nine hours before sending a note Monday afternoon that read, "We the jury have finally reached a verdict."

"Today's guilty verdict forever brands R. Kelly as a predator who used his fame and fortune to prey on the young, the vulnerable, and the voiceless for his own sexual gratification," said Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Several women, underage at the time, accused Kelly of using them for perverse and sadistic whims. Those allegations included taking some across state lines for sex acts.

Both prosecutors and an attorney representing some of the victims praised the jury's verdict.

"I have been practicing law for 47 years. During this time, I have pursued many sexual predators who have committed crimes against women and children," said victims' attorney Gloria Allred. "Of all the predators that I have pursued, however, Mr. Kelly is the worst."

Meanwhile outside the courthouse, the defense reacted with disappointment.

"He was not anticipating this verdict," said defense attorney Deveraux Cannick. "They totally ignore the inconsistencies that all of these witnesses gave."

"I don't know if I'm more disappointed in the jury's verdict or the government's actions in this case. I am sure that we are going to appeal," Cannick added.

R. Kelly attorney Thomas Farinella issued a statement on Twitter taking issue with the use by prosecutors of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act – a federal law designed to fight organized crime.

"We are disappointed with the verdict. The use of the RICO statute in this manner is an aberration," Farinella tweeted. "As proved, the RICO 'Enterprise' was based on a series of independent relationships and events the government patched together like different types of fabrics and passed it off as silk."

Kelly was found guilty of a racketeering charge. It was one count, but lists 14 underlying acts including kidnapping, forced labor, sex trafficking, and bribery. The government had to prove at least two of the 14.

Kelly was also charged with eight counts of violating the Mann Act, which makes it illegal to transport anyone across state lines for any immoral purpose. He was found guilty. The act was named after an Illinois U.S. Rep. James Robert Mann more than a century ago.

The Mann Act charges included claims of coercion and enticement.

The trial began last month, and over the course of six weeks, the jury of seven men and five women listened to 50 witnesses, including 45 for the prosecution and five for the defense.

The prosecution argued Kelly ran an enterprise of assistants, bodyguards and others, all used to recruit, groom and exploit underage girls, boys, and young women for his own sexual gratification.

Among the claims detailed at trial – his marriage to the late R&B singer Aaliyah, and how a government worker was bribed to get her a fake ID so Kelly could marry the then-15-year-old because he feared he had gotten her pregnant.

Witnesses testified about being locked in rooms and having to ask permission to leave, or use the bathroom. Others alleged Kelly gave them herpes without disclosing he had an STD.

"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," Allred said. "These were crimes against children, and some adults."

A handful of witnesses for the defense included former employees and associates who said they never saw Kelly abuse anyone. His lawyers argued the accusers are groupies and stalkers who sought to take advantage of his fame, and lied on the witness stand.

During its closing argument, one of his lawyers compared R. Kelly to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Though the singer vehemently denied all accusations, he did not take the stand. He will be sentenced May 4, and is facing decades behind bars.

Late Monday, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx released the following statement in response to the verdict:

"Today a federal jury found R. Kelly guilty on all counts of racketeering and sex trafficking. This is the first step in a long journey towards justice and healing for many victims of these crimes. Without their bravery and courage, this outcome would not be possible.

"It is my sincere hope that today's verdict brings some form of closure and consolation, and sends a strong message to predators that one's celebrity status will not shield them from the law. The implications of today's verdict reach far beyond that of a megastar. There are other predators amongst us, that may be revered by the community, who will no longer be made to feel insulated from justice.

"While today's outcome may not have come as quickly as we'd like, I'm heartened to know that in this case, justice delayed
was not justice denied. As a Black woman, mother, and survivor, my heart goes out to the victims of this case and countless others. I know firsthand how an already arduous task can be made even more difficult when compounded by race. As Cook County State's Attorney, my office stands ready to support those who experience sexual violence and to prosecute those who perpetrate it."

Kelly also faces a cases in both federal U.S. District Court an Cook County Criminal Court in Chicago, as well as charges in Minnesota.

Federal prosecutors in Chicago have charged Kelly with videotaping himself having sex with underage girls, and paying hush money and intimidating witnesses to cover up his crimes.

Cook County prosecutors have charged Kelly with multiple counts of sexual assault and sexual abuse against four women years ago. The first of those trials had been scheduled for September, but was delayed.

It was not known Monday if prosecutors will move forward with the other trials.

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