R. Kelly Convicted on All Counts and Condemned to Life in Prison
Mr. Kelly’s conviction was a spectacular demise for a guy who was once one of the most recognizable figures in R&B music. It followed the first Me Too-era trial, which saw the majority of victims being Black women.
R. Kelly’s conviction on all nine charges was a watershed moment in the Me Too movement for both Black women and the music industry, ushering in a sense that justice had finally been done.
However, Monday’s judgment raised an obvious question: Women have stated that the singer began abusing them in the early 1990s – why did it take three decades for the musician to face criminal charges?
Following are a few probable responses:
Federal prosecutors allege that the entertainer surrounded himself with an extensive network of enablers, ranging from his closest confidants and workers to other members of the music industry who were aware of his behavior but did not intervene.
The government focused attention on what has been dubbed the “settlement factory” that kept Mr. Kelly’s accusers silent, presenting proof of Mr. Kelly’s payments to women who made allegations in exchange for their silence.
And when that wasn’t enough, Mr. Kelly “used his subordinates to make threats and extract revenge,” blackmailing women with nudist photos or embarrassing information, one prosecutor, Elizabeth Geddes, stated during closing arguments.
Mr. Kelly was also accused by federal prosecutors of paying witnesses not to assist with investigators in the run-up to his 2008 trial and acquittal. They claimed the singer warned some witnesses they could face “physical danger” if they continued.
Additionally, certain cultural characteristics may have aided Mr. Kelly in evading consequences for his behavior.
Legal experts and scholars of sexual abuse have also argued that the majority of Mr. Kelly’s accusers were likely black. According to experts, black women have traditionally been considerably more likely than white women to have their sexual assault allegations dismissed or ignored.
“The reality is that our society does not consider Black women and girls as credible,” Kenyette Barnes, a co-founder of the #MuteRKelly campaign, explained. “We presume that fifteen-year-old Black females possess the cognitive competence to influence an adult male.”
And other celebrities have stated that the accusers’ color influenced their impressions of Mr. Kelly’s case.
Chance the Rapper, who is from the singer’s hometown of Chicago, stated during the documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly” that he did not value the accusers’ tales since they were Black women.
Mr. Kelly’s ardent followers continue to believe he is the victim of a bigger, racist conspiracy to prevent successful Black men from flourishing, a belief that was once more prevalent in Black communities prior to his conviction, experts add.
According to Aisha Harris, a former television reviewer for The New York Times, two cultural touchstones — “Chappelle’s Show” and “The Boondocks” — also helped influence public perception of the allegations against R. Kelly through humor, keeping people entertained rather than concerned.
The cultural context has also shifted considerably since Mr. Kelly’s allegations first surfaced. The musician performed alongside children at a Chicago church the same day he pleaded not guilty to the accusations that led to his 2008 trial. The congregation embraced him.