R. Kelly’s NYC sex abuse trial begins Monday

Posted at 12:13 AM, August 9, 2021 and last updated 7:26 PM, May 17, 2023

By Emanuella Grinberg, Court TV

NEW YORK — Jury selection begins Monday in R. Kelly’s long-awaited racketeering and sex trafficking trial in federal court in Brooklyn, New York.

The Grammy-winning R&B star is accused of leading what federal prosecutors call an enterprise of managers, bodyguards and others who allegedly helped Kelly lure women and girls into his circle for illegal sexual activity as he toured the country.

Kelly faces nine counts spanning three decades. The counts involve six women, three of whom were under 18 at the time of the alleged offenses. The women are identified as Jane Does in court documents, but some shared their accounts in “Surviving R. Kelly,” the two-part Lifetime docuseries that shined a fresh spotlight on longstanding allegations and generated new leads. Details of the other charged offenses may be familiar to those following the controversy surrounding Kelly’s sex life, from his marriage to R&B singer and actress Aaliyah when she was 15 years old to his 2008 child pornography trial, which ended in an acquittal.

For now, Court TV is not identifying the accusers.

>>>READ MORE: Timeline: R. Kelly sex abuse and trafficking cases

Kelly has maintained that all his sexual encounters are consensual and that his accusers are seeking to profit off their association with him. He pleaded not guilty to the nine counts.

In court documents, prosecutors said they intend to call Jane Does #2, #3 and #5, along with former employees and Kelly associates, to describe the alleged enterprise, a critical element in proving the charges. Kelly and his associates are accused of targeting fans – men and women – at shows and elsewhere. After Kelly established contact with fans through calls and text messages, the alleged enterprise members arranged for them to travel around the country to visit Kelly at concerts and engage in various illegal sexual activity, including sex with minors and the creation of child pornography.

Kelly and his associates are also accused of holding some women captive with violence or threats of harm to their families and subjecting them to demeaning and abusive behavior. Kelly is also accused of having sex with Jane Does #5 and #6 without disclosing he has a sexually transmitted disease in violation of California and New York laws.

The Court sent a preliminary questionnaire to potential jurors on July 26. It asked about attitudes toward various topics, including sexually transmitted diseases, witnesses given immunity from prosecution, the Me Too movement, sex with minors and celebrity status. The questionnaire said court sessions will last from about 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, with regular breaks approximately every 90 minutes and a one-hour break for lunch.

Prosecutors wish to call additional witnesses to describe allegations for which Kelly is not charged – uncharged acts – to show a pattern of racketeering, including allegations that Kelly had sex with two underage teen boys and filmed the encounters.

“Kelly’s sexual abuse of minors, Kelly’s use of physical harm and threats of physical harm on his victims, unlawful imprisonment of women, the use of extortionate and coercive tactics to exert and maintain control over his victims and employees, and bribery – all are evidence of the existence of the Enterprise, its purposes, means and methods, the pattern of racketeering, and specifically the relatedness of the racketeering acts and the threat of their continuity,” prosecutors said in a motion to admit the evidence.

As of Friday, Judge Ann Donnelley had not decided whether she will allow the evidence.

Kelly is charged under two federal statutes typically associated with cases of organized crime, the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act and the Mann Act. Kelly’s defense argued in the past that prosecutors are using an unconstitutionally broad interpretation of the statutes as an end-run around expired statutes of limitations.

Federal law prohibits the use of cameras inside the courtroom. Court TV will provide round-the-clock live legal updates outside the courthouse.

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