'Predator' R. Kelly trial begins: Singer used fame to lure 'victims'

‘Predator’ R&B singer R. Kelly used his fame to lure women and children to his shows then ‘dominated and controlled’ them and filmed himself abusing them, prosecutors say as trial gets underway

  • R. Kelly, 54, went on trial in New York Wednesday for allegedly leading a sex ring 
  • He is returning to court today for opening statements in the long-awaited trial 
  • Also faces charges in Minnesota, Illinois for alleged sex crimes in 2019 and 2020
  • It comes more than a decade since Kelly was acquitted in a 2008 child porn case 

‘Predator’ R&B singer R. Kelly used his fame to lure women and children to his shows then ‘dominated and controlled’ them and filmed himself abusing them, prosecutors alleged on day one of his long-awaited trial today.

Kelly’s trial began in Brooklyn’s Federal District Court Wednesday with prosecutors branding him a ‘predator’ in their opening statements and the judge throwing out the defense’s request to dismiss charges against the singer.

The 54-year-old is standing trial on nine charges of being the ringleader of an underage sex ring where women had to call him ‘Daddy’ and had to ask his permission to use the bathroom.

At least five women are cited as Jane Does in the nine-count indictment for mistreatment – three of them underage at the time of the alleged crimes – and one accuser said Kelly had unprotected sex with her without revealing he had herpes.

‘Predator’ R Kelly sexually abused an underage boy he met in McDonalds after promising to help his career, prosecutors alleged in documents as the R&B singer’s sex abuse trial got under way. Kelly in an artist’s sketch in curt Wednesday 

A prosecutor described sex abuse claims against R&B star R. Kelly Wednesday, saying the long-anticipated trial now underway was ‘about a predator’ who used his fame to entice girls, boys and young women before dominating and controlling them physically, sexually and psychologically.

‘This case is not about a celebrity who likes to party a lot,’ Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez told the Brooklyn jury as she explained the evidence to be revealed at his federal trial.

‘This case is about a predator,’ she said.

She said he invited children and women to join him after shows by distributing backstage passes.

Once he had them alone, Melendez said, he ‘dominated and controlled them physically, sexually and psychologically.’

‘What his success and popularity brought him was access, access to girls, boys and young women,’ she said.

A lawyer for Kelly was expected to deliver an opening statement after Melendez completed hers.

The openings came 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 with 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 in Kelly in jail in 2019.

Gloria Allred arrives at the trial of R Kelly at Brooklyn’s federal court in New York Tuesday

Lawyers for R Kelly are seen arriving for the opening day of the star’s sex abuse trial in NYC

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. 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 allegedly were 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. 

Singer R. Kelly (pictured performing in 2013) goes on trial on Brooklyn today on charges he was the ringleader of an under-age sex ring

More than a decade has passed since 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 with 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.

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 are 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. 

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.

The women were also allegedly required to call the singer ‘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.

Kelly is perhaps best known for his smash hit ‘I Believe I Can Fly,’ a 1996 song that became an inspirational anthem played at school graduations, weddings, advertisements and elsewhere. 

An anonymous jury made up of seven men and five women have been sworn in to hear the case. 

The trial, coming after several delays due mostly to the pandemic, will unfold under coronavirus precautions restricting the press and the public to overflow courtrooms with video feeds. If convicted, he could face life in prison. 

The New York case is only part of the legal peril facing the singer. He also has pleaded not guilty to sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota.

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’ (pictured in September 2019) 

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