R. Kelly’s sex trafficking trial begins Monday in Brooklyn, N.Y., with jury selection after several delays. It is one of several charges he is facing in a high-profile proceeding that could land him in prison for 20 years on these charges alone. State charges he faces in Illinois could get him much more time behind bars.
Here are key things to know about the trial.
Born Robert Sylvester Kelly, the 54-year-old is charged with leading a "criminal enterprise" to contract employees — from managers to bodyguards — to find young women and girls for sex and pornography, The Chicago Sun Times reports. Other charges include racketeering, bribery, coercion and enticement. The charges involve six different women and girls but they remain unidentified in court filings.
In 2019, Kelly, a Grammy award-winning and multiplatinum-selling was arrested in Chicago by the NYPD and federal agents. He has been in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn since late June that year.
Kelly has maintained his innocence.
No Cameras Allowed
According to USA Today, the trial will not be televised. In addition, due to COVID restrictions, neither media nor the public will not be allowed in the courtroom. The press and the public can view the trial via closed circuit camera in two overflow rooms at the courthouse.
According to Page Six, his lawyer, Devereaux Cannick, told Judge Ann Donnelly, "His finances are depleted," and asked the court for daily copies of the transcripts, as he can't afford them.
Cannick also said his client "gained weight since he's been incarcerated". "We need measurements for appropriate attire for his trial," Cannick said. "We're trying to get his measurements. How can we take his size?"
Judge Donnelly responded, "I'm not taking his size."
Bizarre Question For Jury Selection
USA Today reports court docs state Kelly’s defense attorneys “asked the judge to allow them to ask potential jurors additional questions during voir dire about their views of LGBTQ people and relationships and whether those views could affect their ability to be fair and impartial.”
It’s unknown how the judge ruled.
It’s also unclear why Kelly’s team wants to ask potential jurors about their views on LGBTQ issues. Recently, court documents surfaced that Kelly allegedly abused underage boys in addition to girls, but did not connect their views to any on pedophelia. On July 31, TMZ reported that an underage boy was allegedly 17 when he met Kelly but a sexual relationship didn’t occur until years later. The judge will reportedly allow accusations that Kelly also assaulted boys.
Evidence About Late R&B Singer Aaliyah Could Come Into Play
On August 3, the court stated that prosecutors will be granted the opportunity to present evidence proving Kelly had "sexual contact" with singer Aaliyah —when she was as young as 13—before the two were married (according to court documents) in 1994. Kelly was 27, Aaliyah was 15. The new development comes after the Chicago native, and his legal team finally admitted to the relationship. Aaliyah died in a 2001 plane crash.
R. Kelly is also facing charges in multiple cities, including 21 charges of making child pornography in Chicago, Illonis.