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R. Kelly convicted in sex trafficking trial

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R. Kelly convicted in sex trafficking trial

NEW YORK (AP) — After decades of allegations about sexual misconduct with minors, R&B star R. Kelly has been found guilty in his latest trial. Jurors in 54-year-old Robert Sylvester Kelly’s sex trafficking trial in New York said they reached a verdict on Monday afternoon.

Kelly, perhaps best known for the 1996 smash hit “I Believe I Can Fly,” had pleaded not guilty to racketeering charges accusing him of sexually abusing women, girls, and boys for more than two decades.

The judge summoned the parties to a Brooklyn courtroom for the verdict to be read. According to the verdict sheet, he was found guilty of racketeering and several Mann Act charges:

  • Transportation
  • Ccoercion and enticement
  • Coercion of a minor
  • Transportation of a minor

The Mann Act makes it illegal to transport anyone across state lines “for any immoral purpose.” The charges were based on an argument that the entourage of managers and aides who helped the singer meet girls—and keep them obedient and quiet—amounted to a criminal enterprise.

The verdict came after a month of emotional testimony accusing Kelly of locking victims in rooms, subjecting them to degrading rules, and filming sexual encounters as a means of control. Several accusers testified in lurid detail during the trial, alleging that Kelly subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were underage.

Prosecutors in the case said there was ample evidence to prove that the R&B star sexually exploited multiple victims over a period of two decades. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nadia Shihata said Kelly “believed the music, the fame, and the celebrity meant he could do whatever he wanted.”

Prosecutors against R. Kelly arrive at the Brooklyn Federal Court House on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, in New York. A New York City jury resumed deliberations on Monday at the sex trafficking trial of R&B star R. Kelly. Jurors began the day by sending the judge a note asking for transcripts of testimony by two former Kelly employees and for a legal clarification. (AP Photo/Brittainy Newman)

Kelly had continually denied the allegations, and his defense team said Kelly’s accusers were never forced to do anything against their will. Kelly’s defense attorney, Deveraux Cannick, argued that Kelly could not be a predator because of the way he treated his accusers. “He gave them a lavish lifestyle,” he said during closing arguments. “That’s not what a predator is supposed to do.”

The jury resumed deliberations Monday morning, beginning the day by sending the judge a note asking for transcripts of testimony by two former Kelly employees and for a legal clarification. Deliberations first began on Friday at federal court in Brooklyn before the panel of seven men and five women took the weekend off.

The judge set a sentencing date of May 4. Kelly’s next court appearance will be on November 1, when the judge will hear any defense motions in the case. Kelly faces additional sex-related charges in both Illinois and Minnesota.

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Annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s to raise awareness and funds for research

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Annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s to raise awareness and funds for research

ST. LOUIS – The annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s is back this year. The goal is not just to raise awareness about the disease but to also to raise funds for research.

The walk is happening at the Enterprise Center beginning at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

So far, the Alzheimer’s Association has raised more than $800,000, not too far away from reaching its goal of $1.3 million.

This progressive disease affects millions of Americans. In fact, the CDC says in 2020, as many as 5.8 million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s disease.

The number of people living with the disease doubles every 5 years beyond age 65. That number is projected to nearly triple to 14 million people by 2060.

During the walk you’ll see people carrying flowers of different colors, each color representing the person’s connection to the disease.

A purple flower is for those who have lost a someone to the disease. A yellow flower represents someone who is currently supporting or caring for a person living with Alzheimer’s.

Registration for the walk is at 7:30 a.m. There will be a ceremony at 9:15 and the walk begins at 9:30 a.m.

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‘Holy grail‘ of American folk art discovered St. Louis yard

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‘Holy grail‘ of American folk art discovered St. Louis yard

ST. LOUIS – Art historians are calling it the holy grail of a find, a rare work of art found in a St. Louis front yard. What looked like a lawn ornament is now headed to a museum in New York.   

It’s a sculpture of two sisters that sat in the front yard of a St. Louis home that’s been on quite a journey. First rediscovered in 2019 by a gentleman named John Foster, an art historian.     

For years the sculpture entitled “Martha and Mary” sat on a bench in the city of St. Louis before an art historian saw it while out on a stroll. 

“That didn’t look like the commonly seen concrete lawn ornament that we are used to seeing,” said Valerie Rousseau, senior curator American Folk Art Museum & Exhibition chair. 

Sally Bliss had inherited this Martha and Mary sculpture, and it sat outside her home in New York when she was a ballet dancer. Years later after her first husband died, she moved to St. Louis when she met her second husband, Jim Connette. 

“I had it and put it out in my garden in Long Island, which was our main house, and brought it with me and put it on the bench,” Bliss said.

“I knew it was valuable. But I knew that nobody would steal it because it looked like it was part of the bench and would be really difficult to pick up that bench and steal the whole thing.” 

This lawn sculpture was originally made by artist William Edmondson, the famed black sculptor from Nashville, Tennessee.

The ‘two sisters’ sculpture had been featured at the Museum of Modern Art in 1937 in New York and later Paris, France. 

Today, William Edmondson is considered a preeminent black sculptor, although he didn’t start sculpting until 1934 when he was 60 years old, and only made 300 sculptures over the course of 15 years. 

Using limestone from demolished buildings.  

“Like most museums, we have to have supporters to acquire such artwork,” Rousseau said. “Prices for Edmundson sculptures can be $350,000 to $800,000.”   

And after some conversations and a cleaning, Martha and Mary are headed back to New York. This time, the sculpture will be the centerpiece of the American Museum of Folk Art. Debuting this January on the celebration of the museum’s 60th year. 

Thanks to the generosity of a man named Brian Donnelly, this sculpture and its wild ride of a story will reside in the Big Apple.  

“I was sad,” Bliss said. “But I knew that this was the right place for it to go and especially to New York and so many people will see it and he will get his due and to me, that’s more important than me having to be sad because I’m losing that work of art.” 

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Working Strategies: Quitting your job Part 2 — Consider your personal finances

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Working Strategies: Quitting your job Part 1: What to do at work

Do you know what the problem is for people who quit jobs? It’s the timing. People tend to wait too long, then quit all of a sudden, leaving themselves with a pile of unfinished business.

Amy Lindgren

Sometimes that business is emotional, with workers’ feelings of being unappreciated accumulating to a toxic level by the time they exit. There’s usually some unfinished business in the job itself, and in the worker’s career as well, not to mention the feeling of being unprepared personally or financially.

Which brings us back to timing: What’s with that pattern of staying too long and suddenly exiting? For one thing, it’s usually a difficult decision. Most people will delay the real or perceived conflict of quitting for as long as they can, opting to adapt to difficult situations instead.

Others may not recognize that their sense of discontent in life may be rooted in a job that no longer challenges them. If the job itself is reasonable, it’s easy to disregard the nibbling sense that something doesn’t quite fit.

And others may just prefer the known downsides of the current job over the potential (but unknown) upsides of a new position.

Regardless of the reasons for a delay, the truth is, most people eventually do leave their jobs and you probably will too. If you’re near the end of your career, the leave-taking might be through retirement or illness, but otherwise you’re likely to quit for reasons that range from new employment to business startup to just needing time off.

Once you acknowledge that fact, you can take more control of the timing. Instead of disregarding the mounting discontent until you can’t take any more, you can plan steps and processes to follow. Whether these unfold over the course of weeks or years is up to you – which is exactly the point.

To help you organize those steps, last week’s column provided five things to do in your current job before quitting. Today we’ll look at five things to do in your personal finances, and next week’s column will finish the series with a look at five things to do in your career before stepping out the door.

Organize (or pay down) your debt. It’s a rare person who doesn’t have debt, whether that’s a mortgage, car loan, student loan, credit cards, or a combination of all of these. The reason to review these accounts while you’re working is three-fold: One, what you discover may influence your timing; two, if you want to make a major purchase, that will be easier while you’re still working; and three, strategies such as refinancing your mortgage to achieve lower payments will be more difficult after you quit.

This step holds true even if you’re quitting to start a new job, because longevity in your position is often considered in lending decisions. And it’s a hundred times more true if you’re quitting to start a business — one of the most difficult positions from which to re-organize one’s debt.

Retirement accounts. Decisions to roll over a 401(k), to set up a new retirement account, or to convert an IRA to a Roth are all things best considered before quitting, while you have the most options available.

Health insurance. You don’t need to be reminded, but just in case: Be sure you know what health insurance options will be available after you leave your job. If any steps can be handled now, you’ll appreciate not having that burden later, when the timing could be more critical.

Take your sick days. Speaking of health … have you used your sick time? Those days have been set aside for you to use in taking care of your health, so now’s the time to schedule your preventative care. This is especially smart if your sick days are “use it or lose it” in terms of payout.

Figure out your cash flow. If you’re taking another job, this step may be built-in, since you’ve already negotiated your next salary. But if you’re leaving without another source of income, you’ll enjoy the getaway more if there’s gas in the car. Don’t just assume that your savings will cover you. Make a decision about how much of your savings you’re willing to spend before you need a new income source.

If all of these personal finance steps are starting to kill your enthusiasm for quitting, don’t worry. You’ll get your motivation back next week when you review the steps to take in your career to ensure a good transition.

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