• R. Kelly guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking charges • Opinion: R. Kelly's real monstrous legacy
Published: 2021-09-28 12:19 am
R. Kelly victims react to verdict: 'I'm ready to start living my life free from fear,' one says

(CNN)Prosecutors and attorneys are praising several victims of R. Kelly for testifying at his trial.

After the singer was found guilty Monday of federal crimes that could land him in prison for decades, some of those victims were speaking out again.

Jerhonda Pace, the first victim to testify, posted a statement to her Instagram within hours of the verdict being read.

"I am happy to FINALLY close this chapter of my life," she wrote. "No matter what you think of me or how you feel about things; today, I MADE HISTORY. I wanna see you be brave."

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 needed 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.

Pace's testimony was part of the case with three racketeering acts the jury found were proved, as were charges of Mann Act violations: forced labor and sexual exploitation of a child.

Pace wrote that for years she was trolled by people who called her a liar and some said she was speaking for money.

Pace, 28, testified that Kelly sexually abused her in 2009 when she was 16. After a few months of having unprotected sexual intercourse with him, she said, she developed genital herpes.

She said she initially told Kelly she was 19 but eventually revealed she was 16 and a virgin. Pace testified that Kelly told her she should "continue to tell everyone she was 19 and to act 21."

Pace said her sexual relationship with Kelly continued for six months and that, at times, she would be at his home and forbidden from leaving her room.

Nicole Blank Becker, an attorney for Kelly, called Pace "a self-proclaimed liar" in her opening statement.

On Monday, Pace wrote: "Today, my voice was heard."

She added she was grateful to be a voice for those who didn't have the courage to also speak up and thankful to have been part of the group that did.

Gloria Allred, an attorney for three of the victims who testified, said a woman who spoke in court as "Sonja" was thankful the jury listened to her.

"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," she said in a statement Allred read to reporters. "Thank you for shining a light and helping me to get out from under that rock that I stayed under for far too long."

Sonja thanked federal agents for protecting her and others over the past two years.

She said no one should have to live with that fear.

"If you've been in a similar situation, I urge you to come forward as well," she said, according to Allred. "It will be like a weight lifted off of your shoulders."

The racketeering acts related to Sonja's testimony were ones that the jury found were not proven.

An attorney for Kelly said they are considering filing an appeal and are disappointed in the verdict.

CNN's Sonia Moghe and Ray Sanchez contributed to this report.

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