Thursday, October 21, 2021

R. Kelly: Singer faces child sex abuse trial

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Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Kelly and his accuser at his child pornography trial in 2008

Kelly’s case featured at least 30 alleged victims – and the singer allegedly violated minors in other states

Paedophile singer R. Kelly walked into court on the first day of his sexual abuse trial and looked shaken.

As jury selection continued on Wednesday, the jurors stared intently at the courtroom walls where the star sat.

The trial is expected to last weeks and judge Timothy Williams set a jury summons date of 2 October.

The Grammy award-winning singer, 52, could be in prison for 15 years if found guilty.

Kelly has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

Kelly’s case featured at least 30 alleged victims – and the singer allegedly violated minors in other states.

A trial that lasted nearly three months took him to trial in 2008 over child pornography, for which he was acquitted.

Profile: R. Kelly’s long and troubled history

Timeline: R. Kelly’s controversial career

Seeking justice

He also earned three Grammy awards for his second studio album, Trapped in the Closet. His hits include I Believe I Can Fly, Ignition and Hotline Bling.

His conviction in the child pornography case spanned two days. “Thought I was smarter than the law,” he said afterwards.

Kelly was arrested again in June 2013 for child pornography – three days after the family of Joycelyn Savage released a video of her talking to a man she said was Kelly.

After they released the video, Kelly, one of the UK’s most successful R&B exports, moved to Florida.

Opening statements on Wednesday were a short and cautious process.

While there were a few references to Kelly’s history, the judge kept them brief. “This trial is not about guilt or innocence. It’s about a child enticement,” said Assistant District Attorney Robert O’Neill.

“[It’s about] for an individual who is in a position of power, authority and control over these children… he engaged in that behaviour knowing what the consequences are.”

There was heavy security outside the courthouse, with metal detectors set up outside the courtroom where about 60 potential jurors were being checked.

The women’s testimony was given first, beginning with their accusations against Kelly.

“He was straight up … very deliberate, intense and [invited] me to touch his penis,” said one of his accusers. “It’s very hard for me to believe that someone my age could be that much of a sexual predator.”

“The first time he put his arm around me and pushed me inside the door, I think that’s the first time I fully understood what it was about,” a witness said.

In August 2017, six men were charged with sex abuse and aggravated criminal sexual abuse, alleged to have taken place in the early 2000s, between when they were as young as 13 years old and as old as 30.

A ruling by a Cook County judge in July 2018 ruled that jurors in R. Kelly’s trial would hear about the charges against them.

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