To my friends @wnbcdesk , I ask respectfully, Please stop calling R Kelly a “superstar.” He hasn’t been a singer in over a decade. And he’s a pedophile that’s been documented for years. If u absolutely have to cover it, please don’t refer to him as a superstar. Thanks.
Moments from two days of jury selection in the R. Kelly trial: the man who confused the singer with R. Crumb; the finance dude who rather huffily told the judge that serving would mean telling his wife they’d have to delay their kitchen renovation…
20 August, 2021 - 11:00pm
'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.
Kelly's trial began in Brooklyn's Federal District Court Wednesday with prosecutors branding him a 'predator' who used his fame to have his 'pick' of victims, who he preyed on, groomed for his sexual gratification and blackmailed into silence.
The 54-year-old's defense meanwhile told jurors they will hear a 'mess of lies' about the singer during the trial and insisted that Kelly and some of the accusers were in 'beautiful' relationships together.
This came after Judge Ann Donnelly 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.
Kelly is standing trial accused of being the ringleader of an underage sex ring spanning two decades where women allegedly had to call him 'Daddy' and had to ask his permission to use the bathroom.
He is charged with racketeering, sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, bribery, sex trafficking and forced labor between 1994 and 2018 relating to six alleged victims.
Five women and girls are cited as Jane Does in the nine-count indictment - with three of them underage and all aged between 16 and 22 at the time of the alleged crimes.
At least one of the alleged victims has accused Kelly of having unprotected sex with her without revealing he had herpes.
He is also accused of bribing an Illinois official in 1994 to obtain fake ID for the singer Aaliyah so they could marry when she was just 15 and he was 27.
Kelly denies all the charges but faces up to life in prison if convicted on all counts.
'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
R. Kelly pictured performing in 2013 at the BET Awards. The star's long-awaited sex abuse trial began in Brooklyn Wednesday
The 54-year-old sat in the courtroom in a gray suit, purple tie, and glasses with his head down at times as the prosecution described an alleged pattern of violent abuse.
In opening statements, Assistant US Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez told the jury the trial is not about celebrity parties but is '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,' she said.
'This case is about a predator.'
Melendez said Kelly used 'every trick in the predator handbook' and had his 'pick of young fans' who he treated like 'objects.'
Melendez explained the evidence that would be presented at the federal trial, telling jurors they would hear from one woman named Sonja who will testify that Kelly locked her in a room for three days and sexually abused her while she was unconscious.
The alleged incident took place at Kelly's Chicago studio when the 22-year-old went to interview the R&B star for a radio station where she worked.
The prosecutor said Kelly lured in children and women by inviting them to join him after shows with backstage passes.
Once he had them alone, Melendez said, Kelly 'dominated and controlled them physically, sexually and psychologically.'
The singer also often recorded his sex acts with minors as he controlled a racketeering enterprise of individuals who were loyal and devoted to him, eager to 'fulfill each and everyone one of the defendant's wishes and demands,' she said.
Kelly then used these recordings as 'collateral' and as a way to blackmail his victims by threatening to release the tapes, she told jurors.
'He made them create embarrassing videos and false letters. He kept it in his back pocket in case anyone tried to accuse him of anything,' she said.
Any of his victims who didn't meet his demands was subjected to 'exacted cruel and demeaning punishments' such as 'violent spankings and beatings,' the prosecutor said.
Family members of Jocelyn Savage (left) speak to reporters outside Brooklyn Federal court before the start of opening statements
A man carries a suit for R. Kelly to wear at his trial after he had complained to the judge earlier this month that he had put on so much weight in prison that he had nothing to wear at trial
R. Kelly is standing trial in Brooklyn federal court accused of being the ringleader of a sex ring involving women and underage girls and boys.
The charges were first brought in a five-count superseding indictment in Brooklyn federal court in July 2019.
In March 2020, he was slapped with additional charges upgrading the case to a nine-count indictment.
The charges relate to allegations involving six alleged victims - five women named as Jane Does in the indictment and the singer Aaliyah. These charges are:
The racketeering charge includes 14 underlying acts including kidnapping, forced labor, bribery and sex trafficking.
Racketeering charges are used where there is an 'enterprise', mob or mafia running organized crime.
In this case, Kelly is accused of being the leader of an 'enterprise' made up of his 'inner circle' of managers, bodyguards and other employees who would help him recruit women, girls and boys for him to sexually exploit.
The Mann Act is a federal law that makes it illegal to transport people across state lines for prostitution or illegal sexual activity.
The prosecution said four of the five surviving accusers in the indictment - who will be identified in the courtroom as Stephanie, Sonja, Jerhonda, Zel and Faith - will testify at the trial.
Kelly's attorney Nicole Blank Becker instead painted the singer as the victim as she delivered the defense's opening statement after Melendez completed hers.
Becker claimed Kelly's alleged victims were 'fans' who 'came to' the star willingly because they enjoyed the 'notoriety of being able to tell their friends that they were with a superstar.'
'He didn't recruit them. They were fans. They came to Mr. Kelly,' she said.
'They knew exactly what they were getting into. It was no secret Mr. Kelly had multiple girlfriends. He was quite transparent.'
It would be a stretch to believe he orchestrated an elaborate criminal enterprise, like a mob boss, the lawyer said.
Instead, she insisted the relationships were consensual.
'They're going to tell you Mr. Kelly is this monster. You're also going to hear that some of these relationships were beautiful,' said Becker.
Becker accused the alleged victims of lying, warning jurors they'll have to sort through 'a mess of lies' from women with an agenda.
'We believe their testimony will crumble,' Becker told jurors.
'There will be so many untruths told to you, ladies and gentlemen, that even the government won't be able to untangle the mess of lies.'
'Don't assume everybody's telling the truth,' she added.
The mother of one of Kelly's alleged victims told reporters outside the courthouse that she was 'grateful' that he was finally facing trial after 'almost two decades.'
'Now finally, after almost two decades, people are finally speaking up and I'm humbly grateful for that,' said Jonjelyn Savage, mother of Joycelyn Savage.
She added that she hoped that hearing the opening statements about her daughter's alleged abuser would help bring 'some relief for us and some type of closure.'
Jocelyn was a live-in girlfriend of Kelly when he was arrested in 2019.
She previously denied being a victim of the singer and defended him in an interview with Gayle King.
However, Savage's family have accused Kelly and his team of holding her against her will and have pleaded for them to release her.
Gloria Allred, who is representing some of the accusers, was also seen arriving at the courthouse Wednesday, while some fans of the disgraced R&B star also gathered in a show of support.
A man was seen carrying a suit for Kelly into the courthouse after he had complained to the judge earlier this month that he had put on so much weight in prison that he had nothing to wear at trial.
An anonymous jury of seven men and five women were sworn in last week for the trial, which is expected to last around a month.
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.
R. Kelly pictured in September 2019 in court in Chicago. Prosecutors said Wednesday the singer is a 'predator'
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 were allegedly 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.
The high-profile trial has been years in the making as the star has faced accusations of sex abuse for years.
He was arrested on the federal charges filed in New York in 2019 and has been behind bars for almost two years awaiting trial.
The trial comes 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 in 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.
Two of the women at the center of the trial spoke out in the series with their accusations.
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.
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, Kelly could face life in prison.
Even if he is found not guilty, Kelly's legal woes are far from over as he faces separate trials on sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota.
Before the opening arguments got underway Wednesday, the judge denied the defense's final bid to dismiss the case, where they had argued herpes is not life-threatening so Kelly shouldn't be charged with passing it to a minor.
Kelly allegedly had unprotected sex with one of his alleged victims when she was underage and when he knew he had herpes but did not tell her.
The accuser contracted the sexually transmitted disease from him in 2015, prosecutors claim.
Kelly's legal team filed a memo Monday night replying to the federal government's opposition to their request that the charges be dropped.
In the memo, they specifically argued the herpes exposure charge should be dropped because herpes is a virus and not 'an acute, bacterial venereal disease such as syphilis or gonorrhea.'
They argued that if case law indicates that HIV transmission is no longer criminally liable because it 'no longer poses a grave risk of death', then herpes should also not be criminally liable.
The defense also said the New York State Department of Health 'is not aware of any instance of an individual being charged with a misdemeanor' for spreading herpes.
Kelly's defense also argued that racketeering charges should be dismissed because they said they fell outside the five-year statute of limitations.
The judge denied the request to dismiss the case early Wednesday.
She also ruled on other motions, including granting prosecutors permission to include evidence they claim shows sexual abuse by the star back in 1991 and which relates to the charges over his marriage to Aaliyah.
Gloria Allred arrives at the trial of R Kelly at Brooklyn's federal court in New York Tuesday (left). Lawyers for R. Kelly are seen arriving for the opening day of the star's sex abuse trial (right)
R. Kelly sexually abused an underage boy he met in McDonalds after promising to help his career, prosecutors alleged in documents released ahead of his trial.
Prosecutors claim the singer, now 54, met a 17-year-old boy in a Chicago fast food joint in December 2006 and invited him to a party.
When the teen - identified only as John Doe #1 - brought his parents to the party, Kelly told him to come alone next time and invited him to his music studio on the promise of helping him with his music career, prosecutors allege.
The singer allegedly asked the boy 'what he was willing to do to succeed in the music business', propositioned him and sexually abused him while he was under the age of consent.
The boy also introduced Kelly to a male friend who was also 16 or 17 at the time, prosecutors allege.
Kelly allegedly went on to have a sexual relationship with this second boy years later.
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R. Kelly employee says working for singer was weirder than gigs with Kanye, Jay-Z, Taylor Swift: ‘It was almost like the Twilight Zone’
20 August, 2021 - 04:11pm
Anthony Navarro, who worked for Kelly at his mansion in the Chicago suburbs between 2008 and 2009, told jurors that his experience working for Kelly was unlike any other music industry job.
“It was almost like the Twilight Zone. Once you went into the gate ... It’s just a strange place,” Navarro testified.
“It was a weird time for me. The things that you had to do was just a bit uncomfortable,” he said.
Navarro was subpoenaed to testify by federal prosecutors in Kelly’s sex trafficking trial.
As a music production worker and assistant, he handled many chores around Kelly’s massive complex in Olympia Fields, Illinois. He said he drove young women to and from the airport, cleaned the house and picked up food.
Young women staying in the mansion would call down to Navarro in the studio for food. Before he could go buy their orders, Navarro had to request permission from Kelly or one of his managers, he testified.
On top of that, he was not allowed to speak to any young women that Kelly had as guests.
“That’s one of Rob’s rules for us,” he said. “They had to get permission to do most things.”
The young women also had to remain where Kelly wanted them in the house, Navarro testified.
“The general rule was, if they’re not where they’re supposed to be, you’d have to call Rob or a manager,” he said.
Navarro testified that he never saw anyone having sex in the house.
His testimony comes during the monthlong sex trafficking trial of the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, 54.
Kelly is accused of trafficking women and girls for illegal sexual activity. Kelly is also charged with knowingly giving herpes to some of his victims, which is a crime in certain states.
One of Kelly’s underage victims, Jerhonda Pace, who said she had a six-month sexual relationship with the singer when she was just 16, testified Thursday about how Kelly forced her to wear pigtails and dress up like a Girl Scout for sex that he recorded.
NEW YORK (Reuters) -A key prosecution witness against R. Kelly at his sex abuse trial testified on Thursday that the R&B singer videotaped their sexual activity when she was 16 and insisted she dress like a Girl Scout. Jerhonda Pace, 28, one of the first women to publicly accuse Kelly of sexual abuse, spoke during her second day of testimony in Brooklyn federal court, the first of many expected prosecution witnesses against the 54-year-old Kelly. The singer, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, has pleaded not guilty to a nine-count indictment accusing him of dominating and demanding absolute commitment from women and girls he abused in a two-decade racketeering scheme.
NEW YORK (Reuters) -A former tour manager for R. Kelly told jurors at the R&B singer's sex abuse trial on Friday that Kelly paid a $500 bribe in order to obtain a license to marry the singer Aaliyah when she was just 15 after fearing he had gotten her pregnant. Jurors also heard testimony from a former Kelly aide who said that working for his former boss was almost like being in a "twilight zone." The testimony came on the third day of Kelly's trial, where the 54-year-old known for the Grammy-winning song "I Believe I Can Fly" is accused of running a two-decade racketeering scheme in which he demanded absolute control over his alleged victims.
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