R.Kelly trial begins with prosecutor deeming the alleged rapist 'a predator'

R.Kelly trial underway with prosecutor deeming the alleged rapist ‘a predator’

R.Kelly

R.Kelly’s sex abuse trial commenced this morning at Brooklyn federal court, with the notorious R&B singer pleading not guilty to nine-counts of indictment, including sex trafficking, kidnapping, forced labour, bribery, and extortion of multiple girls and women.

On Wednesday, Assistant US Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez told a jury of seven men and five women that Kelly used “lies, manipulation, threats and physical abuse” to control his victims, frequently filming their sexual encounters.

Melendez said the 54-year-old was a “predator” who insisted absolute fealty from the women and underage girls he recruited for sex in a racketeering scheme lasting two-decades.

“This case is about a predator,” Melendez said in her opening statement. “This case is not about a celebrity who likes to party a lot.”

The indictment describes Kelly’s alleged dealings with six women and girls, including the late singer Aaliyah, who was 15 when she married Kelly, who was 27.

Melendez said Kelly would demand victims to get his permission before doing anything, including going to the bathroom, and blackmail them by threatening to release self-incriminating letters he forced them to write if they attempted to flee.

Kelly’s lawyer Nicole Blank Becker said the government’s case had “gaps,” and that Kelly’s accusers were former fans who turned on him because they were unhappy their relationships didn’t work out.

“They knew exactly what they were getting into,” Becker said, adding that Kelly was transparent about dating multiple women. “The relationships Mr Kelly had with the various Jane Does were consenting relationships.”

Over the course of the trial, which is expected to last a month, prosecutors will argue that Kelly employed a group of managers, bodyguards to recruit victims, sometimes at concerts.

The six alleged victims in the indictment are identified as Jane Does No. 1 through to No. 6.

Prosecutors will try to show that Kelly bribed an Illinois official in 1994 to obtain fake identification for Aaliyah (Jane Doe No. 1) and whose marriage licence showed her age as 18, for them to get married.

A select few female accusers and at least one male accuser will testify for the government over the course of the next few weeks.

The trial, which was delayed several times due to the coronavirus pandemic, is the · completion of years of suspicions and accusations against Kelly, many of which were revealed discussed in the 2019 documentary Surviving R. Kelly.

Kelly has been jailed for more than two years and could face decades in prison if convicted.

If acquitted, Kelly will still face sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota, where he has also pleaded not guilty.

On Wednesday, Melendez said one accuser, Sonya, was sexually abused nearly two decades ago at Kelly’s studio in Chicago, where she’d hoped to interview him for a radio station she was employed at.

Melendez said Sonya was locked in a room at the studio for three days, and lost consciousness soon after being let out and fed. Upon awakening, Sonya felt wetness between her legs, saw Kelly fastening his pants, and realised she had been sexually assaulted.

According to prosecutors, Kelly believed he had impregnated Aaliyah, who tragically died in a 2001 plane crash, and hoped a marriage would keep her from having to testify against him.

In 2008, a trial in Illinois acquitted Kelly of child pornography charges.

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