R. Kelly’s trial began in a New York City court. The R&B music star is accused of, among other things, making criminal threats and sexual abuse of minors. Some of the charges against the singer relate to cases from 20 years ago. If found guilty, he may be imprisoned for several dozen years.
On Thursday, the trial of American musician Robert Sylvester Kelly, accused of racketeering, sexual abuse and bribery, began in New York. Jerhonda Johnson Pace, the singer’s first victim, told the jury that R. Kelly “knew she was a minor” when they had intercourse in 2009 in Chicago, where the legal age for intercourse is 17.
The woman, now 28, testified that she initially told the singer that she was 19, but revealed her true age on the day they had sex for the first time. – I felt bad about it. I felt it was wrong that I should tell him how old I was – she testified.
– He asked me: what is that supposed to mean? He said then that I should tell everyone that I am 19 and act like I am 21 – said another woman who admitted that she used to be a music fan.
R. Kelly is accused of being the head of an arrangement tasked with recruiting women and underage girls for sexual purposes. Some of the charges against the singer relate to cases from 20 years ago. If convicted, he may be imprisoned for several dozen years.
The defense wants R. Kelly to be acquitted
In her opening speech, defending musician lawyer Nicole Blank Becker stated that R. Kelly’s alleged victims were aggrieved fans who first consented to sex but later took revenge on the accused.
– He didn’t recruit them. They were fans. They came to Kelly, she said in court and added that some relationships were “beautiful” and “long-lasting”. The lawyer portrayed her client as the victim of women who, she said, enjoyed “the fame that they could tell their friends they were with a superstar.”
Accused of sexual abuse and criminal threats
In turn, the prosecution described R. Kelly as “a man who deceived, manipulated, threatened and physically abused women in order to dominate them and avoid responsibility for it for years.” “This case is not about a celebrity who likes to party a lot. It’s a sexual predator,” said assistant prosecutor Maria Melendez.
The prosecutor emphasized that the musician used his status to select people from among young fans, collected them “like objects” and used tricks “from the predator’s manual”.
R. Kelly was supposed to intimidate his victims, film them during sexual acts, and then threaten them with disclosure of the tapes. He required strict rules on women, including nutrition and bathroom use. They were to ignore other men and call him “daddy”.
R. Kelly’s trial repeatedly postponed
Court proceedings over the COVID-19 pandemic have been postponed many times. Several women and at least one man have testified against R. Kelly. Even if he is acquitted in a New York court trial, he faces similar trials in Illinois and Minnesota.
R. Kelly was in custody for two years. In June, due to the ongoing process, it was moved from Chicago to Brooklyn. The singer’s supporters appeared in front of the courthouse, demanding the musician’s release.
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