Warning: This story mentions sexual abuse that could provoke some readers.
R Kelly was found guilty.
Since the 1990s, women and girls accused the singer of sexual abuse, manipulation and inappropriate relationships. But he evaded the law even though several women came forward. And was too acquitted in 2008 for child pornography. But over a decade later, a Bomb documentation the allegations of sexual misconduct against him again brought the spotlight. Kelly’s trial started last month. He has faced eight sex trafficking cases and one blackmail case – including kidnapping and bribery. Kelly has always denied the allegations. But yesterday a jury – consisting of seven men and five women – found him guilty on all counts.
Tell me more.
During the six-week trial, prosecutors brought 45 witnesses – including 11 prosecutors. In this case, he was charged with crimes directly related to six people he had molested. Their names are: Aaliyah (the famous R&B singer), Stephanie, Sonja, Jerhonda, Jane and Faith. Some testified about Kelly’s illegal marriage to Aaliyah when she was only 15 years old. One woman testified that the R&B singer sexually abused her when she was 17 and recorded her while having sex. A former radio intern said Kelly invited her to Chicago for an interview but was held hostage for several days. She said she was abused by the singer after she passed out. Prosecutors called Kelly a “predator” who used his fame to groom and exploit girls. But the defense said the relations were consensual and called the prosecutors “groupies”.
This is the most famous case after the first Me Too era. And one where most of the victims are black women. Gloria Allred – a famous women’s rights attorney who represented three of the survivors – said, “Of all the predators I’ve pursued, Mr. Kelly is the worst.” But Kelly’s attorney said the singer did not expect the result. And are considering an appeal. Kelly’s sentencing is scheduled for May 2022. He faces 10 years in prison. But his time in court may not be over. Kelly faces Federal fees in Chicago, along with state fees in Illinois and Minnesota. It is unclear how his conviction will affect these cases.
There have been allegations against Kelly for almost 30 years. But now the victims are getting the justice they deserve. And while movements like #MeToo expose high-profile perpetrators, it still takes longer for the voices of black and brown women to be heard and taken seriously. That means there is still a lot to be done.
PS. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline here or call 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
What is looking at the clock …
congress. Yesterday, Senate Republicans blocked a bill to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling. That means: the legislature has until Thursday at midnight to pull itself together, or the government will be shut down. A move that could leave hundreds of thousands of federal employees without paychecks. Regardless, if the debt ceiling is not raised, the US could default on its payments for the first time in its history. But Republicans say that sounds like the Dems problem. And urge the Democrats to find out within their own party. Although both parties contributed to the national debt. Now Dems may be forced to pass a short-term funding bill. And come back to the debt ceiling suspension later. Anyway, the clock is ticking for both of them.
Further deadlines: Biden’s agenda goes into a high-stakes week. On Thursday, the House of Representatives is also due to vote on the $ 1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan, which focuses on updating U.S. roads and bridges. But TBD on the separate “human infrastructure bill” (aka the $ 3.5 trillion in welfare and climate bill). Dems are split on the price tag. And are still in negotiations.
What sounds the alarm …
The homicide rate in the US. Yesterday the FBI announced that the number of murders in the United States had increased by nearly 30% over the past year. It is the largest increase since records began. And while the reasons for the surge are unclear, it’s happening across the country – including cities like Albuquerque, Milwaukee, and Des Moines. Some experts believe the social and economic impact of the pandemic (think: isolation and high unemployment) and an increase in gun purchases played a role.
Where there is pain at the pump …
The UK. Over the weekend, thousands of gas stations ran out of fuel for fear of a nationwide fuel shortage. (Keyword: Flashbacks Spring in the USA). Why? By many things. But one of the main reasons seems to be Brexit. When the UK decided to leave the EU, truck drivers (also called long-haul truckers) decided hop from the UK too. Add in COVID-19 and an aging workforce, and the UK is estimated to be missing an estimated 100,000 drivers. Last week, BP reportedly said it was closing a handful of gas stations due to labor shortages. Which in turn caused panic and fear among British drivers who rushed to fill their tanks. All of this has led the UK to dispel concerns. And be offer temporary visas to foreign truckers.
If someone asks you what day it is …
Tell them today’s National Voter Registration Day. Even if it’s not a “big” election year, state and local races are held across the country. And you cannot vote if you are not registered. Our guide has everything you need to know to check your status. Also, what to do if you’ve moved to a state, changed your name … or lost your driver’s license (was there).
Who said ‘I’ll do another round’ …
President Biden. Yesterday he rolled up his sleeves for his Pfizer booster shot (and for the camera). It came days after the CDC recommended the third dose for people over 65. Great flex.
When you are tired of political talk…
Skimm’d by Rashaan Ayesh, Maria del Carmen Corpus, Mariza Smajlaj, Kamini Ramdeen and Clem Robineau