Opinions

R. Kelly’s Conviction Comes Too Late to Create Change in the Industry

Percy Bartelt, contributor

Along with the titles of American singer, songwriter and record producer, R. Kelly has now earned the title “convicted sex offender.” While his conviction is a huge accomplishment for his victims, who can finally rest easy after enduring decades of abuse, it raises a critical question: why did it take so long? 

Robert Sylvester Kelly, known famously as R. Kelly, was convicted on all nine counts of sexual assault, sex trafficking as well as racketeering in September after a trial that lasted 5 1/2 weeks too long. R. Kelly will face his sentencing on May 4, 2022, where he is set to face ten years to life in prison. This isn’t the first time an attempt has been made to bring R. Kelly’s crimes to light –  there have been mountains of evidence against him going back to the 90s, and in 2008 he was tried for sexual abuse of a minor, but ultimately acquitted after he reportedly threatened witnesses with physical harm. 

This trial was long overdue and should’ve been investigated from the very beginning, but unfortunately, sexual assault is hardly taken as seriously as it should be, and even less so in the entertainment industry. What was even more baffling and disgusting is that after R. Kelly’s conviction, the streams of his music skyrocketed! Despite proving that R. Kelly is sexually abusive, manipulative and an overall terrible person, people still doubt the allegations and continue to support him publicly and even financially, as he will still make music off the streams. And, to make matters worse, in the midst of the long trial, R. Kelly’s only defense summed up was: “they deserved it.” Those were human lives that R. Kelly destroyed without batting an eye. Because of his money, his fame, and the fact that he will always have fans, he doesn’t even acknowledge what he did was wrong, and he can easily weasel his way out of it, like he did in the 90s and in 2008.

Sexual assault has long been a hushed topic within the entertainment industry despite how common it is, with a study from USA TODAY suggesting that 94% of women in the entertainment industry face some sort of sexual misconduct. Having that high of a rate, you’d think the public would be hearing about cases every day if that were the case, but nothing. It’s only until the offender has already hurt dozens of people that their damage is reported on, and even then there’s a high chance that the offender will simply pay off their victims, pay off media reporters, or simply claim that the victims are lying because they’re a person with power, influence, and money and they’re jealous of that. 

Despite reporting sexual misconduct seeming like a lose-lose situation, in that if the offender is convicted, there’s still a chance the justice system will set them free, and if the offender isn’t convicted that the victim will seem like a false accuser and liar, reporting on it is highly important. It brings attention to the fact that the person is a poor excuse for a human being and they deserve to go to prison for what they did, and if the media catches on, especially media like Twitter, it will rapidly spread over time the more it’s talked about. 

While in the end, R. Kelly was finally convicted and that title of “sex offender” will be with him forever, it doesn’t take away from the fact that it took about 30 years for his crimes to be acknowledged; Thus proving how toxic the entertainment industry was and still is to this day.