Popular R&B artist R. Kelly, real name Robert Sylvester Kelly, has faced charges of sexual misconduct since the 1990s. He has been charged with numerous counts of child pornography, sexual abuse, and the grooming of teenage girls. The singer’s sentencing hearing will take place on May 4, 2022, and he could get life in prison.
On Aug. 31, 1994, Kelly illegally married fifteen-year-old Aaliyah, who aspired to make a name in the music industry. Just a year later, his hit song “I Believe I Can Fly” was released. Throughout these years, Kelly received positive reviews for his musical talents in the press, while ignoring what was going on behind the scenes.
In 1996, Tiffany Hawkins was the first to publicly accuse Kelly and sued him for 1 million dollars. Hawkins claimed that Kelly engaged in sexual activity with her for three years, starting when she was fifteen years old. She also claimed that Kelly had slept with six of her close friends as well.
“So, I would go in and out of the room and every time I went in there he was having sex with someone,” said Hawkins. “It turned into a whole orgy.”
According to an article by the Chicago Sun-Times, Kelly denied any claims of wrongdoing in the court case, and Hawkins only received a portion of money for the damages. One month later, he received three Grammy awards for “I Believe I Can Fly”.
Kelly was brought back to court in 2001. Musical artist Tracy Sampson claimed that Kelly engaged in sexual activity with her when she was seventeen years old, while she was his intern. The media continued to celebrate his musical talent despite his court case. Kelly even won the Grammy “Male R&B Vocal Performance” in 2001.
On Feb. 8, 2002, the Chicago Sun-Times received video evidence of Kelly having sexual intercourse with a minor. After being arrested, Kelly paid $750,000 for his bail and denied any charges of sexual misconduct.
By 2002, Kelly had 12 charges of sexual misconduct, a majority of which were largely ignored by the media. He was known for being the king of R&B, and several young artists continued to seek his guidance in the industry.
In 2019, the popular documentary “Surviving R. Kelly” gained large amounts of media exposure. This six-part documentary gave a voice to various women who were abused and assaulted by Kelly. Just a month after the documentary was released, Kelly was arrested for 10 counts of sexual misconduct and continued to deny every charge.
In 2019, Kelly was placed behind bars after his arrest. The case was elongated due to COVID-19 restrictions and cancelations, but it wasn’t until Sept. 27, 2021, that Kelly was proven guilty.
Kelly was proven guilty for one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating The Mann Act, which relates to sexual abuse and misconduct. After being ignored for decades, many find that the young women who were abused by Kelly will finally receive justice.
“He deserved to be locked up decades ago,” said Jessica Goldberg, freshman. “This just shows how messed up the court system is, they always ignore the victims.”
After decades of abuse and accusations, Kelly’s music is no longer celebrated. His once popular songs are no longer played on the radio. He no longer holds high status in the music industry.