R. Kelly's Criminal Trial Begins in N.Y.C. Today to Address Decades of Sexual Abuse Allegations
R&B singer and songwriter R. Kelly is set to begin trial in Brooklyn, N.Y., Monday on federal charges of racketeering and sex trafficking, after delays due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to CNN, hundreds of potential jurors are expected to appear in the Brooklyn federal courthouse Monday. Twelve jurors and six alternates will be picked to sit through the expected six-to eight-week trial, CNN reports.
Prosecutors allege Kelly, 54, and his team — including managers, bodyguards and assistants — "traveled throughout the United States and abroad to perform at concert venues…and to recruit women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with Kelly" as far back as 1999.
According to the indictment, the "I Believe I Can Fly" singer allegedly required his victims to follow "numerous rules" in which they "were not permitted to leave their room without receiving permission, including to eat or go to the bathroom," were "not permitted to look at other men" and "were required to call Kelly 'Daddy.'"
The indictment also accused Kelly of "engaging in sexual activity with girls under 18 years old," failing to disclose "a sexually transmitted disease Kelly had contracted" and producing child pornography by requesting that underage girls send him photographs.
"R. Kelly's Enterprise was not only engaged in music; as alleged, for two decades the enterprise at the direction of R. Kelly preyed upon young women and teenagers whose dreams of meeting a superstar, soon turned into a nightmare of rape, child pornography and forced labor," Angel Melendez, special agent in charge from Homeland Security Investigations, said in a statement after Kelly's 2019 indictment.
"The musician turned predator allegedly used his stardom to coax some victims into nefarious sex acts while certain members of his enterprise calculatingly facilitated the aberrant conduct...R. Kelly believed he could fly, but it will be justice to see his oppressive wings clipped," Melendez said.
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Kelly, who was the subject of the bombshell documentary Surviving R. Kelly, has maintained his innocence throughout his legal troubles.
He has been in custody since 2019.
This is Kelly's second trial for sex related charges. He was previously acquitted in 2008 on child pornography charges. Kelly is also facing state and federal charges in Illinois.
Opening statements are scheduled to begin August 18, CNN reports.