Prosecutors have claimed singer R. Kelly was a ‘predator’ who used his fame to lure women and children to his shows on day one of his long-awaited sex trafficking trial.
The Ignition singer is facing multiple allegations that he sexually abused women and girls for decades.
Kelly, 54, has vehemently denied the allegations but faces up to life in prison if convicted on all counts.
His trial began Wednesday in Brooklyn’s Federal District Court with opening statements after jury selection of seven men and five women was completed last week in New York.
Prosecutors alleged the musician ‘dominated and controlled’ his victims and also filmed himself abusing them.
‘This case is about a predator who for decades used fame, popularity and a network of associates to groom girls, boys and young women for his own sexual purposes’, Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez told a Brooklyn courthouse during the federal trial.
Cruz Melendez said R. Kelly used his money, clout and public persona to ‘hide his crimes in plain sight’ and surrounded himself with a team whose purpose was to promote his music and brand and fulfill his wishes and demands.
She argued that R. Kelly learned he could take advantage of this and had his pick of ‘young fans around the country’ and when he had those fans alone he used them ‘physically, psychologically and sexually’.
The prosecutor claimed the case was not about a ‘celebrity who likes to party’ or R. Kelly’s sexual preferences as she stated: ‘the sexual conduct was illegal, he engaged with minors in their teens and recorded it to produce child pornography and crossed state lines and exposed them to incurable herpes.’
Melendez said Kelly used ‘every trick in the predator handbook’ and had his ‘pick of young fans’ who he treated like ‘objects.’
Meanwhile, the disgraced musician’s defense attorneys told jurors they will hear a ‘mess of lies’ about the singer during the trial.
This came after the judge 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.
One of Kelly’s lawyers, Nicole Becker, claimed in her opening statement that some of his accusers enjoyed the ‘notoriety of being able to tell their friends that they were with a superstar’.
Kelly did not ‘recruit’ them, Ms Becker told the court as she added: ‘They were fans. They came to Mr Kelly.’
She then urged jurors to closely scrutinize the testimonies they will hear during the trial as she claimed: ‘They knew exactly what they were getting into… it was no secret Mr Kelly had multiple girlfriends. He was quite transparent.’
During the trial, prosecutors will attempt to argue that the Grammy-winning singer ran a criminal scheme in which women and underage girls were recruited to engage in sexual activity with him.
Kelly, full name Robert Kelly, was first arrested on sex-related charges in 2002 after a video, allegedly showing him having sex with a 14-year-old girl, was sent to the Chicago Sun-Times, but he was acquitted in 2008 after lengthy delays.
He is currently charged with racketeering, sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, bribery, sex trafficking, and forced labor between 1994 and 2018.
The musician is currently facing accusations of sexual exploitation of children and has pleaded not guilty to the charges in the states of Illinois, New York, and Minnesota.
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