R. Kelly was found guilty on Wednesday, September 14, in his Chicago federal-court child-pornography case, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Prosecutors in Kelly’s Illinois trial presented evidence that he targeted minors for sexual abuse and made child pornography, recording these actions. “Kelly and his team, they did their level best … to cover up the fact that Robert Kelly, R. Kelly the R&B superstar, is actually a sexual predator. They did their best, but in the end, they failed,” prosecutor Elizabeth Pozolo said during her closing on Monday, September 12, according to the Chicago Tribune’s Megan Crepeau. “We are here today because those tapes that they concealed for 20 years are no longer their secret. You have seen the tapes.” The prosecution repeatedly discussed “Jane,” Kelly’s former goddaughter, who accused him of sexual abuse. Jane, now 37, testified on August 18 that Kelly had sexually abused her “hundreds” of times while she was a minor. Jane told jurors that she was the teen girl in a video recording that was the crux of Kelly’s 2008 child-pornography trial in state court.
Jane told jurors that she was merely 14 when this video was taped, making Kelly about 30, the Associated Press reported. Jane refused to participate in Kelly’s previous Chicago trial and did not take the stand. Several members of that jury previously said her absence is why they acquitted Kelly. During the current trial, Jane said she lied to the grand jury two decades ago when she said she was not in the tape. “I was afraid something bad would happen to Robert,” Jane said during her testimony. “I was protecting him.” Jane, explaining why she kept the truth a secret, said, “I also did not want that person to be me,” and “I was ashamed.” Eventually, she said she began talking about what had occurred with Kelly after becoming “exhausted living with his lies.” In her closing, Pozolo repeatedly discussed Jane’s words. “That child, who had no prior sexual experiences in her life, was forced to lay on that floor while that man sitting right over there urinated on her. That degrading act is forever captured on that video,” Crepeau quoted Pozolo as saying. “That abuse is forever memorialized … Who does that? Who uses a 14-year-old child to film a video like this? This man. Robert Kelly.” Three other accusers — “Pauline,” “Tracy,” and “Nia” — testified under pseudonyms. Kelly was convicted for making tapes of his abuse of Jane.
Kelly and his co-defendants, Derrel McDavid and Milton “June” Brown, were found not guilty of conspiring to receive child pornography, according to the Tribune. Kelly and McDavid were found not guilty of trying to obstruct justice in his 2002 case.
During attorney Jennifer Bonjean’s closing, she claimed her client, Kelly, faced a disadvantage during this trial, as jurors already knew about “not particularly favorable” information, according to the Sun-Times. Bonjean worked to chip away at elements of the indictment. But as the Sun-Times pointed out, she put forth “just a few technical defenses” on the child-pornography counts. She asked whether these recordings had traveled across state lines and then questioned, “Was his purpose to create child pornography?” While Jane has been dishonest in the past, Bonjean argued, “that is not to say that she has told falsehoods about everything.” Bonjean reportedly told jurors of Kelly and Jane, “We’re not denying that this relationship commenced … and you heard the testimony. You will decide when the relationship commenced.” Kelly, who has been jailed since his July 2019 arrest, was sentenced to 30 years in prison following his September 27, 2021, Brooklyn federal-court trial.