Warning: this episode contains discussion of sexual abuse.
For more than 20 years, the R&B star R Kelly has been dogged by serious and persistent allegations of kidnapping, emotional abuse and sexual violence, many of them against underage girls. He stood trial once before, in 2008, when he was acquitted of child sexual abuse imagery charges over a video which the prosecution said showed him with a girl as young as 13. Despite that case and numerous other alleged victims coming forward, he remained a hugely powerful star for years. But now a court has heard dozens of witnesses accuse him of misconduct, detailing allegations including claims of rape and false imprisonment. Kelly was found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking offences earlier this week. He may face life in prison.
With two other trials pending, on charges denied by Kelly, many of those who have fought to see him brought to justice believe that he is finally being seen for what they say he is: a serial violent sexual predator who preyed on vulnerable Black girls and used his power, status and money to silence them. But even as the women of colour who gave evidence against him celebrate the verdict, there are renewed questions about how he was enabled by the music industry, which profited from his success, and how the media, the police and the criminal justice system failed to hold him to account.
In this episode, Nosheen Iqbal is joined by the Guardian US reporter Lauren Aratani, who has reported on the case in New York. And she speaks to Jim DeRogatis, the music critic who was tipped off to allegations against Kelly in 2000, wrote the first major story detailing claims against him and has pursued the story ever since.
•In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.
• Information and support for anyone affected by rape or sexual abuse issues is available from the following organisations. In the UK, Rape Crisis offers support on 0808 802 9999. In the US, Rainn offers support on 800-656-4673. In Australia, support is available at 1800Respect (1800 737 732). Other international helplines can be found at ibiblio.org/rcip/internl.html
•In the UK, if you are worried that a child you know is at risk of abuse or you need some advice, contact the NSPCC at their website or on their helpline, 0808 800 5000.
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