JUSTICE – With more than a year late due to the pandemic, the jury selection will start this Monday, August 9 at the trial in New York of the fallen R&B star, R. Kelly, sued in several cases for multiple abuses sexual.
In federal court in Brooklyn, the 54-year-old singer will be tried in particular for extortion, sexual exploitation of a minor, kidnapping, corruption and forced labor, over a period ranging from 1994 to 2018.
Currently incarcerated in a Brooklyn jail, R. Kelly has pleaded not guilty to all charges. After the selection of jurors, the first witnesses are expected from August 18.
For more than 25 years, Robert Sylvester Kelly has been accused of child pornography, sexual assault or relations with minors, until the suspicion of having created a sex sect around him.
But despite these accusations and several out-of-court settlements, the singer, known for his hits I Believe I Can Fly, Bump ’N Grind or Ignition (Remix), maintained a strong fan base and continued to tour around the world.
R. Kelly’s world really started to fall apart in January 2019, when the explosive documentary series was released. Surviving R. Kelly, which shed light on the singer’s sulphurous history, this time in a post- # MeToo era.
In February 2019, prosecutors in Chicago, the city of R. Kelly, charged him with aggravated sexual abuse of four women between 1998 and 2010, the youngest of whom was 14 years old at the time of the facts.
Seven months later, still in Illinois, federal prosecutors indicted him for child pornography and incitement of a minor to sexual acts, accusing him in particular of having filmed his antics with young girls and bought the silence of witnesses potential to obtain his acquittal in his first trial in 2008, for child pornography.
In New York, the musician is accused of abusing six women whose identities have not been released. But many consider that one of the victims, named Jane Doe # 1 in the file, was actually singer Aaliyah, who died in a 2001 plane crash at age 22.
The indictment indeed accuses R. Kelly of having bribed an official of the State of Illinois in 1994 to obtain false documents and marry a minor. An accusation that refers to the marriage, finally canceled, of the singer with the young star of R&B, then aged 15.
The indictment details sordid facts: R. Kelly ran a network that recruited and groomed young girls to have sex with him, locking them in their hotel rooms when he was on tour, asking them to wear loose clothes when they weren’t with him, to “keep your head down” and call him “daddy”.
In Chicago as in New York, federal judges refused his release on bail, citing a risk of flight, witness tampering or the danger posed by the singer.
R. Kelly, who also faces a judicial front in the state of Minnesota, for similar facts, has always denied the charges. “Whether it is old rumors, new rumors, future rumors, it is false”, he assured in an interview with CBS, before the federal indictments.
For lawyer Gloria Allred, who represents three of the victims in the New York trial, “the accusations are very powerful, they stir a lot” and “to put it mildly, this is going to be a real challenge for the defense”.
Kenyette Barnes, co-founder of the #MuteRKelly (“Silence R. Kelly”) movement, is optimistic about a conviction that will give alleged victims a chance to start “healing”.
Unlike 2008, when he was acquitted, “there is this concerted effort to undo the nesting doll that represents Robert Kelly,” she told AFP. “The time has come for the survivors … He has harmed too many young women and girls throughout his life, and has avoided accountability. And it is time for this reign to end. ”
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