R. Kelly Trial Begins As Court Hears Shocking Opening Remarks
R. Kelly’s trial has begun in New York with opening remarks outlining what the courts will be attempting to prove during the next few weeks of the process
The 54-year-old, whose trial began in Brooklyn today, August 18, is facing over 20 federal charges including racketeering, sexual abuse and bribery – all of which he’s denied.
Proceedings began last week, where jurors were asked whether they could remain impartial with the case being so high-profile.
It’s unclear how much time the singer could be sentenced to if found guilty, but according to FederalCharges, his racketeering charge could see him serve up to 25 years, while FindLaw says a violation of the Mann Act could result in 10 years. Additional charges in Illinois – which he will be facing at another time – could add more onto a potential sentence.
During her opening statement, Assistant US Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez outlined how the R&B singer allegedly groomed women by using his fame. According to the statement to the jury, Kelly ‘dominated and controlled them physically, sexually and psychologically’.
Melendez also described how 54-year-old Kelly filmed his sex acts and was allegedly responsible for a a racketeering enterprise, with people close to him that would ‘fulfill each and everyone one of the defendant’s wishes and demands’. She went on to state that ‘what his success and popularity brought him was access – access to girls, boys and young women’.
Melendez’s opening remarks urged the jury to distinguish Kelly from his celebrity peers. ‘This case is not about a celebrity who likes to party a lot. This case is about a predator’, she said. Melendez later described how Kelly is ‘a man who used lies, manipulation, threats and physical abuse to dominate his victims and to avoid accountability for years’.
Following the opening remarks of Assistant US Attorney Melendez speech, one of Kelly’s lawyers named Nicole Becker (pictured above left) provided her opening statement. She began with a narrative about how women would enjoy the ‘notoriety of being able to tell their friends that they were with a superstar’.
Becker went on to tell the court that Kelly didn’t ‘recruit’ women, but that ‘they were fans. They came to Mr Kelly.’
She stressed the importance of inspecting every piece of testimony the jury will hear as the accusers apparently ‘knew exactly what they were getting into.’ Becker simply stated that ‘it was no secret Mr Kelly had multiple girlfriends. He was quite transparent’. In conclusion she urged the jury, ‘don’t assume everybody’s telling the truth.’
At the time he was charged, there were four alleged victims, whose ages ranged from 13 to 16 years old, who claimed the crimes against them occurred between 1998 and 2010.
This number has since risen to six women and girls.
Then, in July 2019, R. Kelly, full name Robert Sylvester Kelly, was arrested for federal child pornography, and hit with another 13-count sex crime indictment which saw him charged for racketeering based on sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping, forced labour and Mann Act violations, NBC News reports.
Following his arrest, the singer was denied bail by a judge, who branded him as an ‘extreme danger to the community, especially to minor girls’. Kelly has remained in custody in Chicago ever since.
Since being in custody, more allegations have come to light that are said to be linked to the allegations the singer was already facing. Last month, prosecutors said the new claims, thought to involve a teenage boy, were ‘directly relevant to and inextricably intertwined with the evidence of the charged crimes’.
This motion, filed on Friday, July 23, was made up of 20 Jane Does and two John Does.
In addition to these extra allegations, three men believed to be connected to Kelly were arrested in April last year and charged with harassing and bribing women who have accused the R&B singer of abuse.
As well as all of the charges he’s facing, prosecutors have alleged the singer gave an underage girl herpes without disclosing he supposedly had the disease, and conspired to obtain fake identification for a minor in the 1990s, Fox News reports.
It’s thought the false ID was for fellow singer Aaliyah, whom Kelly married in 1994 when he was 27, and she was just 15.
Kelly’s trial is expected to go on for a month.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Victim Support free on 08 08 16 89 111 available 24/7, every day of the year, including Christmas.
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