R. Kelly, one of R&B’s most successful voices, was found guilty of 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse Monday at the hands of Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan.
The singer’s alleged victims, are now between the ages of 17 and 29 and dating from 1998 to 2010. Kelly, 52, faces up to 70 years in prison after Gaughan found him guilty of sexually abusing three underage girls and four young women who were as young as 13.
“At the end of the day, you took advantage of the trust, the lack of judgment, the lack of thinking about consequences and to seek what was basically complete control over these little girls,” Gaughan said.
Before the verdict, Kelly sang his classic “Ignition,” serenading the jury during a spirited two-hour opening statement.
Kelly spoke softly before the judge, wearing a suit and sporting a noticeably thinner physique compared to his former physical appearance.
Kelly started singing with an intro full of falsetto that quickly faded away into a steady cadence, and a rhythmic beat. He also flexed his fists as if to boast about his wealth.
He spoke generally about how he didn’t have an accusers’ version of the facts, according to the Washington Post’s Garrett Grumbly.
“I didn’t recruit these women. I didn’t force them to do anything,” Kelly said during the hearing. “I didn’t have sex with them without their consent.”
There are references in court documents to sex, but not many specifics. The graphic accuser’s testimony described how Kelly had performed oral sex on a minor in a Chicago hotel room, pressed his erect penis into one victim’s vagina and continued to penetrate her in the bathroom while she had a fever.
Kelly was also accused of forcing a woman who was just 13 to get down on her knees and penetrate him while he performed oral sex.
In another instance, Kelly allegedly forced another 13-year-old girl to give him oral sex.
The singer told the judge that he “didn’t do anything wrong” and that “everything I did was consensual.”
Kelly also told the court that he was “troubled” by the accusations against him.
The singer grew up in Chicago, where he sold homemade rap albums on the side of the street before hitting the music scene in the 1990s.
Kelly gained a reputation as a singer with a weirdly saucy personal life, performing intimate shots to his band, and getting out of bed in his concerts to give lovemaking lessons to a curious crowd. He was questioned about the confessional aspect of his early songs in front of a congressional committee back in 1997.
“I want to go back to the roots of being a spiritual person,” Kelly told the lawmakers, according to the “Howard Stern Show.” “I used to record private spiritual things. People would come up and videotape it. That’s how we came up with ‘I Believe I Can Fly.'”
The rapper also published the autobiography “I Believe I Can Fly” in 2000, in which he also sang at one point: “I’m my own worst critic. I get jealous, and I get angry. I want love from myself.”