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?


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.


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.


"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.