R&B Rapper R Kelly’s trial for Sex Trafficking has taken a first step after a period of multiple delays as the Jury selection for the case begins Monday.
This is going to be the first major step in the case after the rapper was charged with abusing women and girls throughout his career for around 20 years two years ago. As per the reports, today’s proceedings will take place in New York City.
Hundreds of jurors are reportedly expected to be present, out of which, twelve jurors and six alternates will be selected for the criminal trials for R Kelly.
According to Fox News, the federal court judge in Brooklyn will reportedly assess potential jurors on the basis of the question whether they would be able to “keep an open mind about Kelly amid immense public scrutiny brought on largely by the #MeToo movement as well as a documentary series that shined a light on the singer and his alleged illegal activities.”
Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, has been locked up in a federal jail in Chicago since 2019, when he was indicted. The 54-year-old artist was recently faced a trial in a case, for which, he was moved to Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn last month.
However, R Kelly, who has been criminally charged for racketeering and sex trafficking, has denied charges. But, if the singer is found guilty, he could face decades of imprisonment. Moreover, the documentary made on R Kelly, which address all his wrong doings and his illegal actions, his image has tarnished even more, and the case has already caught fire.
As this particular case holds a lot of weight, the setup of the court room for the trial is also being modified. As reported say, the selected and chosen members will be the only members of the public with an in-person view of the trial. Moreover, the public and media will be unable to watch in person, which is deemed to be an unusual move.
Additionally, the judge has also ruled that the women involved in the case will be referred to only by their first names.
As stated by the US District Judge Ann Donnelly at a final pretrial hearing on Tuesday, “the unusual setup of the courtroom for trial, saying witnesses would testify from the jury box and jurors would be spread out among the gallery where media and members of the public generally sit.” She also stated that the public and media will be able to witness the trial from a video flow, in a separate “overflow” room.
Moreover, Donnelly also mentioned that the members of public and the media will not be able to see presented as it will be presented in the court during the trial.
On the other hand, media outlets, via their attorneys, had put forth their request in front of the judge to have at least “a limited pool of reporters allowed into the courtroom,” reports CNN. However, Judge Donnelly has denied the said request stating that the jurors are needed to be spread out in the gallery, and that it would be “inappropriate to seat the jurors with members of the public, including reporters, even if there were adequate space.”
Donnelly’s decision of limited access also was also warranted by the court’s interest in “ensuring public safety during a global health pandemic.”
All the proceedings and meetings will be done in the court prioritizing the COVID-19 guidelines. However, jurors’ will not be asked about their COVID-19 vaccine status. But, they will be required to wear masks.
The reports say that R Kelly’s trial is expected to go for six to eight weeks, with first hearing expected on 18th August. CNN reported that he gap of a week between appointment of the jury and first hearing of the case was due to Deveraux Cannick, the recently added lawyer for R Kelly, who required time to prepare for the case.
R Kelly, on the other hand, seem to be facing some issues regarding his health after spending two years in detention. As per newly appointed his defense attorney Cannick, Kelly is drained physically as well as financially. Cannick told the judge last week that the rapper has gained so much weight in jail, he is required to be measured for new clothing. He also asked for the free allotment of court transcripts to Kelly as “his funds are depleted,” as he hasn’t worked in two years.
This case is going to be Kelly’s trial after he was charged for child pornography, but was acquitted in in 2008. In the current case, the rapper has been charged for multiple crimes- sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping, forced labor and sex trafficking.
As per the indictment filed against Kelly by the prosecutors, Kelly allegedly was the leader of a criminal enterprise, which consisted of associates who worked to promote Kelly’s music and his brand “to recruit women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity” with the singer, according to an indictment filed by prosecutors.
The filing states that the managers, bodyguards, drivers, personal assistants and members of Kelly’s entourage were all a part of his criminal enterprise.
Prosecutors claim that after or at his concerts, Kelly or members of his enterprise would invite women and girls backstage and to events. The girls were also occasionally invited Kelly to travel to see him perform throughout the country. Kelly took sexually explicit videos and photographs with and of several minor girls, alleged the prosecutors.
The prosecutor also state that there were times when the girls and women invited by Kelly, who he had made sexual relations with, were kept in rooms “for days at a time with no access to food.”
Other than that, the court filing by the prosecutors also address the instance where Kelly abused a boy under 18 year old after enticing him of tutoring him in music. CNN reported, “Prosecutors say that Kelly met an unnamed 17-year-old boy at a Chicago McDonald’s and invited him to his studio to mentor him in the music business, and that Kelly allegedly asked him “what he was willing to do to succeed in the music business” and had sexual contact with him, according to a court filing.” The boy is reportedly expected to testify in the court.
One of Kelly’s victims also include Aaliyah, who used to work with Kelly. She was still a minor when Kelly made sexual relations with her and she was believed to be pregnant with Kelly’s child. The official papers stated, “As a result, in an effort to shield himself from criminal charges related to his illegal sexual relationship with Jane Doe #1, Kelly arranged to secretly marry her to prevent her from being compelled to testify against him in the future,” the papers say.
Aaliyah, who is referred to as “Jane Doe #1” on papers, died in a plane crash in 2001. She was 22 at the time.
On the other hand, Kelly has denied all the accusations stating that the girls and women were with him willingly. He has also pleaded not guilty to the charges in Illinois and Minnesota. Kelly’s lawyers stated that the alleged victims in the case were groupies, who willingly turned up at his shows and actively made it known that they “were dying to be with him.” The defense attorney also stated that the girls only started to come up and accuse Kelly of sexual abuse years later when #MeToo movement was the active topic.