What does racketeering mean? Meaning explained, what is R. Kelly guilty of, charges faced, and definition

R&B singer R Kelly, known for his 1996 hit I Believe I Can Fly, was found guilty of racketeering and eight counts of trafficking

Musician R Kelly has been sentenced to 30 years in prison, after he was found guilty of racketeering and eight counts of trafficking.

The R&B singer, known for hits I Believe I Can Fly and Ignition (Remix), was found to have exploited his status to run a scheme to sexually abuse women and children.

The six week long trial in Brooklyn, America, heard how R Kelly, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, was the ringleader of a violent scheme going back decades.

One of the nine chargers he faced was for racketeering - an offence usually associated with organised crime - in addition to eight violations of an anti-sex trafficking law.

Here’s all you need to know about racketeering.

What is racketeering?

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Racketeering is an offence usually associated with organised crime.

It is often used in reference to a group of people who attempt to commit fraud, coerce or extort others in a type of scheme, known as a racket, while collecting money.

The term ‘racketeering’ was first used in June 1927 by the Employers’ Association of Chicago in a statement about the influence of organised crime in a labour union.

In the case of R Kelly, such was the scale of operation around him, including his entourage, staff and personal aides, meant it was a criminal enterprise in the eyes of the prosecutors.

The court heard of 14 individual acts of racketeering, including bribery, kidnapping and forced labor, associated with R Kelly before jurors delivered their verdict.

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What was R Kelly found guilty of?

The court heard from no fewer than 11 accusers - nine women, two men - who described the sexual humiliation and violence suffered at the hands of R Kelly.

In a six week long trial, and two days of deliberation from the jury, R Kelly was found guilty of all nine charges - racketeering and eight counts of sex trafficking between US states.

Jurors heard how R Kelly had illegally married singer Aaliyah in 1994, when she was just 15, seven years before she died in a plane crash.

The certificate, which was leaked at the time, listed Aaliyah’s age as 18 before the marriage was annulled months later. Her debut album was produced and written by R Kelly.

Following the trial, the lawyer who represented several of the survivors addressed the media.

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"I’ve been practising law for 47 years. During this time, I’ve pursued many sexual predators who have committed crimes against women and children. Of all the predators that I have pursued, Mr Kelly is the worst," said Gloria Allred.

What was R Kelly’s sentence?

R Kelly was found guilty of multiple counts of racketeering, relating to bribery and forced labour, by a jury in September 2021.

The federal court in New York heard how the former 90s superstar was branded “the pied piper of R&B” as he came face to face with several of his victims, who detailed his “deplorable and inexplicable” abuse during the hearing.

The 55-year-old was also found in violation of an anti-sex trafficking law known as the Mann Act.

The singer, who denied all charges, was found guilty on all nine counts against him after a six-week trial in Brooklyn, New York, and sentenced to 30 years behind bars.