Reporters Who Covered R. Kelly on His Trial and Conviction

Writing about the R. Kelly trial was difficult for many journalists.

Due to coronavirus restrictions, we weren’t allowed in the courthouse where the trial was taking place, so we watched from a chamber two floors above as witness after witness testified about horrendous sexual abuse.

Reporters Who Covered R. Kelly on His Trial and Conviction

R. Kelly on His Trial and Conviction

Every day, we watched fuzzy TVs in the overflow room. To see the R&B legend accused of several sexual offences, we had to strain our eyes. The 12 jurors had to decide whether or not the singer was guilty.

Nicole Blank Becker, Kelly’s attorney, frequently sat on his right, blocking part of his view. To give the impression that Kelly was a YouTube commenter, the video only showed him in a small breakout box in the upper left corner. When compared to a nickel, his face was relatively huge.

Aside from raising an eyebrow when a witness accused him of sexual abuse and bobbing his head during a clip from one of his songs, Kelly sat through the testimony of the other witnesses without making much of a sound.

On the camera feed, witnesses were often barely discernible. In the beginning of the trial, one sketch artist even resorted to using binoculars to get a better look.

Reuters’ court illustrator, Jane Rosenberg, took her customary seat in the press gallery’s front row every day, where she could lean forward and stare over her spectacles to get every detail. Some of the witnesses who accused Kelly of sexual misconduct had their names protected by the court, so she obscured their faces.

The court, rightly so, took precautions to shield the identities of those who claimed to have been harassed or threatened by Kelly. However, this decision prevented journalists from reviewing some of the evidence that jurors watched and read in order to make their verdict. Another video feed breakout box showed proof, but the letter sizes made it difficult to read.

We had No Way of Knowing What the Jury Decided Because they were not Visible in Judge Ann Donnelly’s Courtroom.

Everyday, we would bring our notebooks and papers to a local park to work and take advantage of the fresh air as we got tonnes of work done.

On a Wednesday, an Insider reporter was hunched over on a bench in front of the Brooklyn Federal Court Building as she hurried to beat the sun and submit her article before it became dark. She swatted at the mosquitoes biting her arms and legs while R. Kelly fans danced and chanted for his release.

A group of Kelly’s backers gathered across the street from the courthouse to cheer on the defence team as they left the building.

The whole thing looked like something out of a nightmare. True, high-profile sexual assault trials are not as common as one might think.

The Constant Influx of R. Kelly Devotees Certainly had us on our Toes.

The overflow rooms had a chilling environment due to the terrible testimony in the case and the air conditioning that seemed to run at a temperature of 40 degrees. U.S. Marshals guarding public and press areas did their utmost to keep things peaceful.

The peace, however, did not last for very long.

The Long-Awaited Verdict

After deliberating for roughly 10 hours, the jury found Kelly guilty on all nine counts.

When the verdict was announced in September, a very pregnant Insider reporter who had just finished two prenatal visits in central Manhattan waddled full speed — with a hospital band still attached around her wrist — to a subway stop.

When she arrived at the Brooklyn courthouse, she saw that the building was surrounded by many more journalists than had been present in the overflow room during the trial. At the entrance, TV cameras waited expectantly for something to happen.

Kelly’s legal team was mobbed by reporters as they left the courthouse, and they couldn’t make it past the surrounding park without saying something about the flaws in the prosecution’s case.


Singer R. Kelly’s backers vented their displeasure when celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, who represents several of Kelly’s accusers, made a statement. Although the vast majority of the victims who spoke in court were individuals of colour, one onlooker criticised the verdict as racist.

While the majority of the gathering outside the courthouse dispersed as the afternoon wore on, a core number of Kelly loyalists remained.

They threw their arms around one another, blasted the singer’s most sorrowful songs on their stereos, and reminisced about the time they saw him perform live together.

One woman who had seen Kelly play live before stated, “I simply can’t believe it,” referring to the jury’s decision to label him a sexual predator in Brooklyn.