R. Kelly’s Conviction: A Step In the Right Direction

Sara Paredes, Copy Editor

After two days of deliberation, six weeks of trial and decades of allegations, R&B singer R. Kelly was brought to justice and finally found guilty of nine counts on Sept. 27, 2021. 

The federal jury declared the singer guilty of racketeering, sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, bribery, sex trafficking and violating the Mann Act, granting him the possibility of life in prison. The fight towards justice for a multitude of women, boys and children alike lasted a total of 20 years, beginning in 1994. 

This case proves extremely influential in the process of holding celebrities and public figures accountable for their criminal actions. For years, allegations and claims of these assaults have been dismissed as “rumors” or simply ignored. Everybody knew R. Kelly was a predator. The singer avoided all criminal responsibility for allegations of sexual misconduct involving young women and children for decades. 

Dismissing the severity of R. Kelly’s actions and those of numerous other celebrities and public figures silences the voices of those affected and distracts from the real danger and power that powerful figures in society wield over those they control. In order to keep his victims from speaking out and exposing what was happening, Kelly would threaten the victims with the exposure of homemade, non-consensual videos of them engaging in sexual intercourse. 

As a result of Kelly’s case making progress in the court system, its significance serves as a wake-up call for the public and the future of American pop culture. Embedded in pop culture for nearly three decades, it is unclear whether Kelly’s music will retain its influence. 

Now, it is blatant that the R&B singer’s music has more to do with the measures he took to pleasure himself, unrestrained by any concern for those damaged in the process. One example is the album “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number,” which Kelly wrote and produced for hit-singer Aaliyah, then only 14 years old, whom he illegally married a year later. 

It is common for some of the world’s most twisted, cruel people to be the creators of brilliant art. Separating the art from the artist serves as an important perspective to take into account when questioning these artists; however, where is the line? 

When the art is about the misdeed itself, that is where the divide sets in. Holding R. Kelly accountable for the crimes he committed and those he permanently damaged demonstrates that justice delayed is not always justice denied.