Prosecutors brand 54-year-old musician a ‘predator’ who used his fame to lure in children and young women as part of a criminal enterprise where he sexually exploited his victims and trafficked them across state lines
The sex abuse trial for R&B singer Robert Sylvester Kelly, aka R. Kelly, 54, began in Brooklyn’s Federal District Court Wednesday
In opening statements, prosecutors branded Kelly a ‘predator’ whose fame ‘brought him access to girls, boys and young women’
Defense countered, telling jurors not to ‘assume everyone is telling the truth,’ that his alleged victims were ‘fans’ who enjoyed the ‘notoriety of being able to tell their friends that they were with a superstar’
Judge earlier threw out the defense’s final last-ditch attempt to dismiss the case
Kelly is accused of leading an underage sex ring where victims allegedly had to call him ‘Daddy’ and had to ask his permission to use the bathroom
Federal prosecutors in Kelly´s sex trafficking case say he also had sexual contact with an underage boys in addition to girls, and the government wants jurors in his upcoming trial to hear those claims.
He’s charged with one count of racketeering, including 14 acts, and eight counts of violating the Mann Act
One of the six alleged victims testifying against the defendant said he groomed and sexually abused her in 2010, fully aware she was just 16
‘Predator’ R. Kelly ‘said “that’s good” when the fan club member, 16, told him she was a virgin and the pair began a sexual relationship shortly after
During their abusive relationship Kelly once ‘choked her until she passed out’ she told the court
The last time she saw him the victim said, Kelly ejaculated on her face and she wiped Kelly’s spit and semen on a blue T-shirt that was presented in court Wednesday as evidence
If convicted, Kelly could face life in prison – Kelly also faces separate trials on sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota
The Singer Robert Sylvester Kelly, better known by his stage name, R. Kelly, allegedly lured a 16-year-old fan to his mansion and told her he was happy she was a virgin after meeting her when she attended his 2008 child porn trial, a court hard. Kelly who it is alleged, has a life time of sexually preying on minors, is on trial at Brooklyn’s Federal District Court, NYC. Kelly’s long-anticipated federal trial began in New York with opening statements on Wednesday August 18
prosecution and defense both gave opening statements, kicking off Kelly’s trial on racketeering and sex trafficking charges relating to six women and underage girls and dating back almost three decades.
The trial of Kelly, best known for his 1996 smash hit ‘I Believe I Can Fly,’ is coming after several delays due mostly to the pandemic.
If convicted, Kelly could face life in prison. He also faces separate trials on sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota.
After opening statements the case got underway with victims’ testimonies.
Jerhonda Pace, one of six women in the federal indictment, took the stand in Brooklyn’s Federal District Court Wednesday to testify against her alleged abuser.
Pace testified that she first met Kelly when she was just 14-years-old when she attended every day of his 2008 child pornography trial, in which he was found not guilty due to lack of sufficient evidence.
When Pace was 16 she said she went to a party and met up with Kelly, claiming she was 19-years-old.
She said Kelly remembered her from court and invited her back to his mansion a few days later where he told her to put on her swimsuit while he sat on a lounge chair and for her to walk back and forth while removing her swimsuit.
She said the two then began kissing and he performed oral sex on her but she ‘felt uncomfortable’ lying about her age, so she told him she was actually 16 and showed him her state ID as proof, and Kelly asked ‘What is that supposed to mean?’ Buzzfeed News reported.
Pace said Kelly told her to keep saying she was 19 and ‘act 21’ and that he ‘was going to train me on how to please him sexually.’ When she told him she was a virgin, she said Kelly responded ‘that’s good’ and told her to lie about her age to other people.
Pace said she continued to see and have sex with Kelly over the next several months and that Kelly would often film their encounters.
He also allegedly made Pace follow a strict set of rules, including making her wear baggy clothes, having her call him ‘Daddy,’ and forbidding her from eating food or using the bathroom without his permission, Buzzfeed reported.
Pace said she was forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement, and a letter full of false admissions that claimed she had stolen money and jewelry from him, which prosecutors allege was a form of blackmail by Kelly.
Pace said she normally abided by Kelly’s rules, but when she didn’t he would be punished.
She testified about an incident when she said she preferred the Cleveland Cavaliers to Kelly’s favorite team, the Chicago Bulls and he allegedly backhanded her across the face and told her she was being disrespectful.
In another instance, Pace said Kelly wanted her to use a sex toy on him while they had sex, and she hesitated, telling him she was ‘taught that was gay,’ and he slapped her in the face, telling her ‘I’m not f**king gay,’ before making her give him oral sex while using the sex toy on him.
On the final day she spent in Kelly’s house in 2010, Pace said she was distracted and didn’t immediately acknowledge Kelly’s presence when he entered and Kelly slapped her and choked her out until she passed out. ‘
After that he spat in her face and told her to put her head down in shame before making her perform oral sex on him.
Pace said Kelly ejaculated on her face and she wiped Kelly’s spit and semen on a blue T-shirt that was presented in court Wednesday as evidence.
Pace said after that incident she made up an excuse to leave the mansion and never returned.
Prosecutors described the 54-year-old as a ‘predator’ who used his fame to lure in children and young women as part of a criminal enterprise where he sexually exploited his victims and trafficked them across state lines.
However, Kelly’s attorney instead claimed that Kelly was the victim of ‘fans’ who wanted the ‘notoriety of being with a superstar’ and had enjoyed ‘beautiful’, consensual relationships with him and were now turning on him.
His defense sought to discredit the accusers telling jurors they will be faced with ‘a mess of lies’ and that ‘their testimony will crumble’ when they take the stand.
This came after Judge Ann Donnelly threw out the defense’s final last-ditch attempt to dismiss the case but allowed them to bring a printer into the courtroom to help them manage the 3,500 pieces of evidence expected to be presented at the trial.
Kelly is standing trial accused of being the ringleader of an underage sex ring spanning two decades where women allegedly had to call him ‘Daddy’ and had to ask his permission to use the bathroom.
He is charged with racketeering, sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, bribery, sex trafficking and forced labor between 1994 and 2018 relating to six alleged victims.
Six women and girls are cited in the nine-count indictment – with at least three of them underage and all aged between 15 and 22 at the time of the alleged crimes.
At least two of the alleged victims have accused Kelly of having unprotected sex with them without revealing he had herpes.
He is also accused of bribing an Illinois official in 1994 to obtain fake ID for the singer Aaliyah so they could marry when she was just 15 and he was 27.
Kelly denies all the charges but faces up to life in prison if convicted on all counts.
In opening statements, the prosecution described an alleged pattern of violent abuse.
Assistant US Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez told the jury Kelly used ‘every trick in the predator handbook’ to groom his victims, blackmailed them with sex tapes and violently beat them if they failed to comply with his demands.
The trial is not about celebrity parties but is ‘about a predator’ who used his fame to entice girls, boys and young women before dominating and controlling them physically, sexually and psychologically, she said.
‘This case is not about a celebrity who likes to party a lot,’ she said.
‘This case is about a predator.’
Melendez said Kelly had his ‘pick of young fans’ who he ‘dominated and controlled’ and treated like ‘objects.’
The prosecutor said Kelly lured in children and women by inviting them to join him after shows with backstage passes. Once he had them alone, Melendez said, Kelly ‘dominated and controlled them physically, sexually and psychologically.’
The singer also often recorded his sex acts with minors as he controlled a racketeering enterprise of individuals who were loyal and devoted to him, eager to ‘fulfill each and everyone one of the defendant’s wishes and demands,’ she said.
Kelly then used these recordings as ‘collateral’ and as a way to blackmail his victims by threatening to release the tapes, she told jurors.
‘He made them create embarrassing videos and false letters. He kept it in his back pocket in case anyone tried to accuse him of anything,’ she said.
Any of his victims who didn’t meet his demands was subjected to ‘exacted cruel and demeaning punishments’ such as ‘violent spankings and beatings,’ the prosecutor said.
R. Kelly is standing trial in Brooklyn federal court accused of being the ringleader of a sex ring involving women and underage girls and boys.
The charges were first brought in a five-count superseding indictment in Brooklyn federal court in July 2019. In March 2020, he was slapped with additional charges upgrading the case to a nine-count indictment.
The charges relate to allegations involving six alleged victims – five women named as Jane Does in the indictment and the singer Aaliyah.
These charges are: The racketeering charge includes 14 underlying acts including: one act of bribery, three acts of sexual exploitation of a child, one act of kidnapping, three acts of forced labor and six acts of violating the Mann Act.
Racketeering charges are used where there is an ‘enterprise’, mob or mafia running organized crime operations.
In this case, Kelly is accused of running a racketeering ‘enterprise’ for two decades made up of his ‘inner circle’ of managers, bodyguards and other employees who would help him recruit women, girls and boys for him to sexually exploit and traffic them around the US.
To convict Kelly on the racketeering charge, he must be found guilty of at least two of the 14 acts.
Kelly is facing eight counts of violations of the MANN Act.
The Mann Act is a federal law that makes it illegal to traffic people across state lines for prostitution or illegal sexual activity.
Four of these charges relate to an incident involving Jane Doe #5 in 2015 while the other four involve Jane Doe #6 in separate incidents in May 2017 and February 2018.
Three of these charges involve Kelly allegedly exposing the two women to herpes without informing them.
‘What his success and popularity brought him was access, access to girls, boys and young women,’ she said.
The prosecution said four of the five surviving accusers in the indictment – who will be identified in the courtroom as Stephanie, Sonja, Jerhonda, Zel and Faith – will testify at the trial.
Melendez explained the evidence that would be presented at the federal trial, telling jurors they would hear from one woman named Sonja who will testify that Kelly locked her in a room for three days and sexually abused her while she was unconscious.
The alleged incident took place at Kelly’s Chicago studio when the 22-year-old went to interview the R&B star for a radio station where she worked.
Kelly’s attorney Nicole Blank Becker instead painted the singer as the victim as she delivered the defense’s opening statement after Melendez completed hers.
Becker claimed Kelly’s alleged victims were ‘fans’ who ‘came to’ the star willingly because they enjoyed the ‘notoriety of being able to tell their friends that they were with a superstar.’
‘He didn’t recruit them. They were fans. They came to Mr. Kelly,’ she said.
‘They knew exactly what they were getting into. It was no secret Mr. Kelly had multiple girlfriends.
He was quite transparent.’
It would be a stretch to believe he orchestrated an elaborate criminal enterprise, like a mob boss, the lawyer said. Instead, she insisted the relationships were consensual.
‘They’re going to tell you Mr. Kelly is this monster. You’re also going to hear that some of these relationships were beautiful,’ said Becker.
Becker accused the alleged victims of lying, warning jurors they’ll have to sort through ‘a mess of lies’ from women with an agenda.
‘We believe their testimony will crumble,’ Becker told jurors.
‘There will be so many untruths told to you, ladies and gentlemen, that even the government won’t be able to untangle the mess of lies.’ ‘Don’t assume everybody’s telling the truth,’ she added.
An anonymous jury of seven men and five women were sworn in last week for the trial, which is expected to last around a month.
Prosecutors in Brooklyn have lined up multiple female accusers – mostly referred to in court as ‘Jane Does’ – and cooperating former associates who have never spoken publicly before about their experiences with Kelly.
They’re expected to offer testimony about how Kelly’s managers, bodyguards and other employees helped him recruit women and girls – and sometimes boys – for sexual exploitation. Prosecutors claimed in documents ahead of the trial that R. Kelly sexually abused an underage boy he met in McDonalds after promising to help his music career
One alleged victim named ‘Sonja’ is expected to testify that the singer locked her in a room for three days and sexually abused her while she was unconscious.
Pre-trial, the Judge threw out defense final bid to dismiss the case after they argued herpes is not life-threatening so he shouldn’t be charged with passing it to a minor – Before the opening arguments got underway Wednesday, the judge denied the defense’s final bid to dismiss the case, where they had argued herpes is not life-threatening so Kelly shouldn’t be charged with passing it to a minor.
The mother of one of Kelly’s alleged victims told reporters outside the courthouse that she was ‘grateful’ that he was finally facing trial after ‘almost two decades.’
‘Now finally, after almost two decades, people are finally speaking up and I’m humbly grateful for that,’ said Jonjelyn Savage, mother of Joycelyn Savage. She added that she hoped that hearing the opening statements about her daughter’s alleged abuser would help bring ‘some relief for us and some type of closure.’
Jocelyn was a live-in girlfriend of Kelly when he was arrested in 2019.
She previously denied being a victim of the singer and defended him in an interview with Gayle King.
However, Savage’s family have accused Kelly and his team of holding her against her will and have pleaded for them to release her.
They say the group selected victims at concerts and other venues and arranged for them to travel to see Kelly in the New York City area and elsewhere, in violation of the Mann Act, the 1910 law that made it illegal to ‘transport any woman or girl’ across state lines ‘for any immoral purpose.’
When the women and girls arrived at their lodgings, a member of Kelly’s entourage would set down rules about not speaking to each other, how they should dress and how they needed permission from Kelly before eating or going to the bathroom, prosecutors say.
Also, they were allegedly required to call him ‘Daddy.’
Defense lawyers have countered by saying Kelly’s alleged victims were groupies who turned up at his shows and made it known they ‘were dying to be with him.’
The women only started accusing him of abuse years later when public sentiment shifted against him, they said. The high-profile trial has been years in the making as the star has faced accusations of sex abuse for years.
He was arrested on the federal charges filed in New York in 2019 and has been behind bars for almost two years awaiting trial.
The trial comes more than a decade after Kelly was acquitted in a 2008 child pornography case in Chicago.
It was a reprieve that allowed his music career to continue until the #MeToo era caught up with him, emboldening alleged victims to come forward.
The women’s stories got wide exposure in the Lifetime documentary ‘Surviving R. Kelly.’
The series explored how an entourage of supporters protected Kelly and silenced his victims for decades, foreshadowing a federal racketeering conspiracy case that landed Kelly in jail in 2019.
Two of the women at the center of the trial spoke out in the series with their accusations.
Kelly allegedly had unprotected sex with one of his alleged victims when she was underage and when he knew he had herpes but did not tell her.
In May 2018, just as streaming platforms Spotify, Apple and Pandora cut R. Kelly’s music from their playlists, citing policy violations on hate content and hateful conduct, one of the alleged victims, then 20, filed a lawsuit accusing R. Kelly of sexual battery, mental and verbal abuse, and knowingly inflicting her with herpes during a yearlong relationship.
The accuser contracted the sexually transmitted disease from him in 2015, prosecutors claim.
Kelly’s legal team filed a memo Monday night replying to the federal government’s opposition to their request that the charges be dropped.
In the memo, they specifically argued the herpes exposure charge should be dropped because herpes is a virus and not ‘an acute, bacterial venereal disease such as syphilis or gonorrhea.’
They argued that if case law indicates that HIV transmission is no longer criminally liable because it ‘no longer poses a grave risk of death’, then herpes should also not be criminally liable.
The defense also said the New York State Department of Health ‘is not aware of any instance of an individual being charged with a misdemeanor’ for spreading herpes.
Kelly’s defense also argued that racketeering charges should be dismissed because they said they fell outside the five-year statute of limitations.
The judge denied the request to dismiss the case early Wednesday.
She also ruled on other motions, including granting prosecutors permission to include evidence they claim shows sexual abuse by the star back in 1991 and which relates to the charges over his marriage to Aaliyah.
R. Kelly sexually abused an underage boy he met in McDonalds after promising to help his career, prosecutors alleged in documents released ahead of his trial. Prosecutors claim the singer, now 54, met a 17-year-old boy in a Chicago fast food joint in December 2006 and invited him to a party.
When the teen – identified only as John Doe #1 – brought his parents to the party, Kelly told him to come alone next time and invited him to his music studio on the promise of helping him with his music career, prosecutors allege.
The singer allegedly asked the boy ‘what he was willing to do to succeed in the music business’, propositioned him and sexually abused him while he was under the age of consent.
The boy also introduced Kelly to a male friend who was also 16 or 17 at the time, prosecutors allege.
Kelly allegedly went on to have a sexual relationship with this second boy years later.