Our take: R kelly, you’re cancelled forever

Today R.Kelly’s Wikipedia profile describes him as “an American singer, songwriter, record producer and convicted sex offender”.

That’s how history will remember Robert Sylvester Kelly after a New York court on Monday found him guilty on eight counts of sex trafficking and sexual abuse and one count of racketeering. Sentencing is set for May and the 54-year-old faces decades in prison. This is a long-awaited moment of justice for all the men and women he sexually abused over two decades. 🤮

In the 1990s Kelly’s predatory behaviour towards minors first came under the spotlight when he secretly married the late singer Aaliyah, who was just 15 at the time. Kelly was 27 and had obtained illegal paperwork to change Aaliyah’s age. In the years that followed, Kelly was sued by at least four women for sexual harassment and forcing them into sexual relations with him when they were underaged. New allegations of abuse and sexual exploitation were levelled against Kelly over the years; he was also accused of making sex videos and taking pictures of minors and circulating the content without consent. Most of the allegations were first heard in a 2019 documentary called “Surviving R. Kelly” where his victims spoke out about his sexual and emotional abuse. He was then charged with sex trafficking. 

The racketeering charge relates to the illegal scheme he was running with the help of his “inner circle” across states to recruit or kidnap young and vulnerable women, sometimes at his concerts, to sexually exploit them and to produce pornography. 

The nine women and two men who testified in court over a six-week-long trial said they could now live free from fear and begin to heal. 💫

It’s a difficult story to read about, we know. But take heart: For generations, abusers in high places have got away with these crimes. The cultural shift brought about by the #MeToo movement and other activism is changing that. 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 30 September 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.