Why did it take so long before R&B superstar R. Kelly was brought to justice for his decades-long sexual abuse and exploitation of girls and young women? That haunting question emerged following Mr. Kelly’s conviction on sex trafficking and other charges. The troubling answer was provided by one of the women who 25 years ago told law enforcement authorities — to no avail — that the musician had abused her when she was 15 years old. “I was a young Black girl,” she said. “Who cared?”

On Monday, after a 5½ week trial in federal court in New York that included gut-wrenching testimony from women about the physical, emotional and sexual abuse they endured, Mr. Kelly, 54, was found guilty on all nine counts. The jury reached its verdict relatively quickly, deliberating nine hours. “No matter how long it takes, the long arm of the law will catch up with you,” said Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, the acting U.S. attorney in Brooklyn.

Not only does Mr. Kelly face 10 years to life in prison, but additional federal charges have been filed against him in Chicago and state charges are pending in Illinois and Minnesota. Hopefully his conviction brings some measure of peace to his victims, believed to number more than 70, who endured not only Mr. Kelly’s abuse but also years of mockery and neglect. “Today, my voice was heard,” Jerhonda Pace, the first woman to testify against Mr. Kelly, wrote on Instagram. “I wouldn’t say I now have closure, because in the end none of us will get our time back. But this is a small victory,” said Kitti Jones, who detailed abusive treatment in the 2019 "Surviving R. Kelly" docuseries that finally spurred prosecutors to scrutinize Mr. Kelly.

Allegations about Mr. Kelly’s abusive conduct have been a constant of his career. He was married (later annulled) in 1994 at age 27 to a 15-year-old singing protegee; the Chicago Sun-Times in 2000 detailed out-of-court settlements with women claiming inappropriate relationships that started when they were minors; a video surfaced in which he appears to have sex and urinate on a young girl, but he was acquitted at the subsequent child pornography trial when the victim refused to testify. His career flourished as he profited from his image as a predator — even having the temerity to call himself “the Pied Piper of R&B” — and was protected by the power of celebrity and enabled by underlings and sycophants. Fervent fans dismissed disclosures about his behavior as racist attacks on a Black superstar. Never mind that his victims were mostly Black girls and Black young women. Which made them easy to dismiss.

The conviction is the first high-profile prosecution in the #MeToo era in which the victims were mainly women of color. And it would not have happened if not for the determination of Black women — who organized a campaign to get stations to stop playing Mr. Kelly’s music, who produced the riveting docuseries that finally prompted serious investigations, who told their painful stories. Until, finally, their voices were heard.