In this Sept. 17, 2019, file photo, R. Kelly appears during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago. The R&B superstar known for his anthem “I Believe I Can Fly,” was convicted Monday in a sex trafficking trial after decades of avoiding criminal responsibility for numerous allegations of misconduct with young women and children. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool, File)

“They got him, another n*gger with money is going down,” I heard a young, brother of color sharing the news on his phone. Apparently, the person on the other end asked, “who” which prompted him to answer in a way our folks really understand. “R. Kelly, that fool — (singing) ‘I Believe I Can Fly,’ — can’t fly out of this s***.”

A jury of seven men and five women in a federal court in Brooklyn, New York, found Robert Sylvester Kelly, 54, guilty of all nine counts, including racketeering. Racketeering is described as a genre of organized crime in which the perpetrators set up a coercive, fraudulent, extortionary, or otherwise illegal coordinated scheme or operation (a racket) to repeatedly or consistently collect money or other profit.

What can I say? Unless you’ve been hiding under a lot of rocks, you know that R. Kelly enjoyed sex with underage girls and boys. And this unnatural desire to deflower children caught him good. He was found guilty on all counts in his sex-trafficking trial on last Monday, and for the most part, no one was shocked at the verdict because he has a very long history
of sexual abuse and exploitation of young women and minors that spans several decades.

For decades … maybe that’s the most shocking part, he appeared to get away with it – for decades. So, why exactly did these victims stay with him? They were not physically tethered. Kelly’s attorney, Deveraux Cannick, painted the motivation in broad, economic strokes, alleging that his accusers loved the shopping sprees, free air travel, and the expensive dinners. In short, being wine and dined trumped feeling like a sexual object.

R. Kelly arrives at the Cook County building in Chicago, Ill., for the first day of opening arguments for his child pornography trial on May 20, 2008. The 54-year-old R&B singer will once again head to court this week. His federal trial in New York begins Wednesday, Aug. 18. 2021, and will explore years of sexual abuse allegations. He has vehemently denied the allegations against him. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty, File)

Prosecutors carefully presented Kelly as a control freak and a pampered man-child. His accusers said they were instructed to call him “Daddy,” and had to jump and kiss him whenever he walked into a room.

Prosecutors alleged that his entourage of well-paid managers and aides helped Kelly meet girls — and also worked diligently to keep them quiet and obedient — all this amounted to a criminal enterprise, i.e. the racketeering charge.

At the time of filing, two people have been charged with Kelly in a separate federal case pending in Chicago.

Kelly’s future is dim. He’s facing the possibility of decades in prison for crimes, including violating the Mann Act, an anti-sex trafficking law that prohibits taking anyone across state lines “for any immoral purpose.” That sentencing is scheduled for May 4.

Kelly is a predator but what does a sexual predator look like, exactly? How can a person identify modern human trafficking?
Several accusers provided the court with disturbing details alleging that Kelly subjected them to sadistic and perverse whims when they were underage.

Remember the disturbing sex tapes of Kelly having sex and urinating on a 14-year-old girl? The video is 42 minutes and 45 seconds and allegedly shows him asking the 14-year-old girl to urinate before he urinates on her. In this tape, she reportedly calls him “daddy” and he refers to her as “14-year-old p***y.”

Kelly had been tried once before, in Chicago in a child pornography case, but was acquitted in 2008.

Ponder. Maybe now, we are beginning to formulate what a predator looks like and what is the most disturbing — to me — is that our community laughed about it because comics crafted jokes around it. This went on for years in the public arena and in the news. In fact (and this is shameful), media seemed to be more amused than horrified. Then, the rumors started to bubble about Kelly’s illegal marriage to the late R&B phenom, Aaliyah (Aaliyah Dana Haughton), in 1994, when she was just 15; he was 27. Think about this deeply for a moment. She was 15 and now ask yourself, how many years did he “know her” before he “married her?” One of the final witnesses described watching him sexually abusing her in 1993, when Aaliyah was only 13 or 14.

In this courtroom sketch, R. Kelly, center, sits with his defense attorneys Thomas Farinella, top, and Nicole Blank Becker during the first day of his defense in his sex trafficking case, Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)

But money shuts a lot of mouths and his concert tickets and records are churning cash and other artists continued to record his songs, even after he was arrested (2002) and accused of making that infamous aforementioned video recording.

Think. Tap your finger to your forehead. Kelly’s wild, illegal behavior went on for decades but there was a shift in the wind, so to speak, and #MeToo helped, but the widespread public condemnation arrived after the deeply troubling docuseries, “Surviving R. Kelly,” (it’s ok, shiver — I am) which helped make his case, another marker of the #MeToo era.

Kelly’s fate is still being shaped. The New York case is only part of the legal challenges now facing this middle-aged man. He also has pleaded not guilty to sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota. Trial dates in those cases have yet to be set.

And now R. Kelly—Robert Sylvester Kelly—54—who has been jailed without bail since 2019 is sitting inside a cell, found guilty of all nine counts, including racketeering. What thoughts could be gripping his soul when the lights are out and he’s alone with his memories?

Congressman Danny Davis from Illinois told TMZ that Kelly has an opportunity for redemption upon hearing this support, “I wonder if Kelly is reminded of Matthew 19:24 which states, that’s ‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.’”

Here’s the cold reality, Robert Sylvester Kelly will head to Chicago to face more federal charges relating to sexual abuse. His sentencing in the New York trial is set for May, and he could face life in prison.

The young man reporting the news on the phone got it right. [“I Believe I Can Fly”] Kelly “can’t fly out of this s***.”