R. Kelly
**FILE** R. Kelly performs at Little Caesars Arena on Feb. 21, 2018, in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Scott Legato/Getty Images)

Guilty, on all counts!

This week, Robert Sylvester Kelly, popularly known as R. Kelly, was convicted by a New York federal court jury for racketeering and eight counts of violating the Mann Act (also known as the White-Slave Traffic Act of 1910. The federal law criminalizes the transportation of “any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose.”)

The R&B singer, well-known most for his famous song “I Believe I Can Fly,” is grounded, and deservedly so. More than 40 witnesses testified during the trial that lasted five weeks, recounting years of alleged sexual and physical abuse by Kelly with underage girls, women and boys.

Details exposed the acts by Kelly and those of his accomplices that participated in helping to lure girls into Kelly’s violent and abusive grip. Yet, Kelly stood trial, is now convicted, and may spend decades in prison.

There are laws aimed at protecting potential victims from predators like Kelly. He married the late singer Aaliyah when she was only 15. Still, Kelly’s former tour manager reportedly bribed a Chicago welfare worker who provided the fake ID showing her to be age 18. A minister married them and testified that he met them that day, and “I didn’t understand it at all.”

Many looked the other way or ignored Kelly’s notorious acts, allowing him to violate his victims. Their acts gave rise to the charge of racketeering. And, when his victims sought retribution, why weren’t they heard? Even more, why were previous charges against Kelly dropped, or how did they result in an acquittal?

Kelly’s conviction reminds us of the challenges women face to make their voices heard. “This is the culmination of the movement of so many women who having been trying so long to have their voices heard,” said Oronike Odeleye, co-founder of #MuteRKelly, told the New York Times.

“We have never had full ownership of our bodies,” she added, “And we’re at a moment where Black women are no longer accepting that as the price of being Black and female in America.”

If others don’t learn a lesson from Kelly and his victims’ ordeal, then shame on you!

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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