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Victims react to R. Kelly verdict: 'I'm ready to start living my life free from fear'

Kelly was found guilty of nine counts. Following the verdict, victims of his crimes have expressed relief and gratitude.

Victims react to R. Kelly verdict: 'I'm ready to start living my life free from fear'
Image Source: R Kelly Appears In Court in Chicago For Status Hearing. CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 17. (Photo by Antonio Perez - Pool via Getty Images)

Trigger Warning: Details of Sexual Assault, Sexual Exploitation of Children

Several victims of R. Kelly's crimes testified during his highly publicized trial, for which they have earned high praise from prosecutors and attorneys. After he was charged on nine counts of federal crimes on Monday, his victims spoke up once more. Kelly is likely to spend multiple decades in prison, and those who testified can finally begin the process of moving on from their traumatic experiences. Although an attorney for Kelly claimed they were disappointed with the verdict, the victims expressed gratitude and relief that the jury had believed their stories. One noted, "Today, my voice was heard," CNN reports.



 

Jerhonda Pace was the first victim to testify against Kelly. Within a few hours of the guilty verdict being read, she took to Instagram to share her thoughts. "I am happy to FINALLY close this chapter of my life," she posted. "No matter what you think of me or how you feel about things; today, I MADE HISTORY. I wanna see you be brave." Pace's testimony during the trial included details part of a case with three racketeering acts. In this case, the jury found her claims were proven true. As a result of her testimony, Kelly was also found guilty on charges of Mann Act violations: forced labor and sexual exploitation of a child.



 

For years, Pace had faced online trolling by folks who believed she was lying about her experiences. Many accused her of sharing testimony for money. Notably, one of Kelly's attorneys, Nicole Blank Becker, called Pace "a self-proclaimed liar" in her opening statement. Nonetheless, the victim affirmed, "Today, my voice was heard." Additionally, she said she was grateful to provide a voice for those who did not have the courage to speak up for themselves. She added that she was thankful to have been part of the group that provided testimony. Pace, now 28 years old, testified that Kelly sexually abused her in 2009 when she was 16.



 

Gloria Allred, an attorney for three of the victims who testified, shared a statement from a woman who spoke in court as "Sonja." Reading from the statement, the attorney recited, "I've been hiding from Robert Kelly in fear due to threats made against me and I'm ready to start living my life free from fear and to start the healing process. Thank you for shining a light and helping me to get out from under that rock that I stayed under for far too long." Allred said Sonja was thankful the jury listened to her, adding a note of thanks for the federal agents who protected her and others over the past two years while the trial was underway. "If you've been in a similar situation, I urge you to come forward as well," she said, according to the attorney. "It will be like a weight lifted off of your shoulders." She said no one should have to live with the same fear she did.



 

Kelly was found guilty of nine counts: one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating the Mann Act. Of the 14 underlying acts for the racketeering count, he had to be found guilty of at least two to be convicted of that count. Jurors found prosecutors had proven all but two of the 14 underlying racketeering acts. An attorney for Kelly claimed they would consider filing an appeal.



 

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