On September 27, a federal court in New York found R&B singer R. Kelly guilty of bribery, sexual exploitation of a child, racketeering, and sex trafficking involving five victims. Convicted on all counts, R. Kelly faces sentencing of 10 years to life in prison—but why did it take over two and a half decades for R. Kelly’s victims to find justice?
Kimberlé Crenshaw, a law professor at UCLA and Columbia Law School, attempted to answer this crucial question in an op-ed for The New York Times. In her piece, Crenshaw outlined how “racism and misogyny have converged to create a monstrous intersectional failure” for survivors of R. Kelly’s predation. She pointed to how people simply chose not to believe the allegations against R. Kelly, how they “discounted the testimony of Black women and girls.” One white juror for the R&B singer’s first case in 2008 even admitted to it.
“I just didn’t believe them, the women,” the juror stated in “Surviving R. Kelly,” a documentary by Dream Hampton. “I know it sounds ridiculous. The way they dress, the way they act — I didn’t like them. I voted against. I disregarded all of what they said.”
Unfortunately, this happens all too often. As Crenshaw wrote, R. Kelly is far from the first abuser to go years without facing consequences—even as allegations and evidence to back them up snowball. Take the case of Anita Hill, who testified that Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her. Or the cases of the over 60 women who came forward with sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby.
At The Zalkin Law Firm, we are proud to stand up for survivors against their abusers. We know just how much society’s tendency to not believe or to blame survivors can prevent them from speaking up; worse, it prevents survivors from finding justice when they do.
To find out the full story of “How R. Kelly Got Away With It,” read Crenshaw’s op-ed in The New York Times here.
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