R Kelly kept an ugly side of his life hidden as he escaped Chicago poverty and rose to pop music stardom, a prosecutor told jurors in the singer’s trial, which accused him of seducing girls into sex and manipulating a 2008 child pornography case to have.
elly’s lead attorney pleaded with the jury during her opening statement at the federal trial in Chicago not to accept what her client’s prosecutors portrayed as a “monster.”
Dating back to the 1990s, much of the world knew Kelly only through his hits, including the chart-topping inspirational anthem “I Believe I Can Fly,” said Assistant US Attorney Jason Julien.
But “Kelly had another side … a hidden side, a dark side,” he added.
“This process is about Kelly’s hidden side.”
Kelly, 55, faces multiple charges including enticing a minor into sex, manufacturing child pornography and manipulating his 2008 child pornography trial, of which he was acquitted.
Kelly, who denies any wrongdoing, has been dogged by complaints and allegations about his sexual behavior for decades.
The scrutiny intensified following the #MeToo era and the six-part 2019 documentary Surviving R Kelly, which detailed allegations of sexual abuse of teenage women and girls.
Defense attorney Jennifer Bonjean told jurors that partly because of intellectual challenges, which included illiteracy, Kelly was forced to rely on others when his career began and that he was sometimes misled by his associates.
“Mr. Kelly can also be a victim,” she said.
A conviction in Chicago could add decades to a 30-year sentence he had already received from a New York federal judge for using his fame to sexually assault fellow young fans.
video of the day
While the prosecutor sat at a table of defense, Kelly occasionally shook his head as Mr Julien described how Kelly manipulated and controlled girls, even hitting them when they didn’t follow strict rules, which included telling him, “Daddy ” to call.
Mr Julien tried to give jurors a sense of the extent of Kelly’s alleged exploitation by saying he had “repeatedly” had sex with girls as young as 14, 15 and 16, “multiple girls, hundreds of times “.
He told jurors the evidence included at least three videos showing Kelly having sex with underage girls.
“We will not play child pornography for hours and force you to watch it,” the prosecutor said, explaining that they would see excerpts.
He added: “The videos are difficult to watch.
“But it’s important to observe … to understand what happened.”
Kelly nodded in agreement when his attorney told the jury that Kelly was not seeking special treatment, just a fair trial.
“If the government wants to portray him as a monster…remember we are talking about a human being,” Ms Bonjean said.
She said juries shouldn’t succumb to what she called a “climate of mob justice” surrounding Kelly, alluding to Surviving R Kelly and years of harsh social media reporting about him.
“It’s true that Mr. Kelly is imperfect,” she said.
“On his way from poverty to fame, he stumbled along the way.”
However, she was confident that the jury would ultimately find him not guilty.
After the jury acquitted Kelly at his 2008 state trial, some later said they felt they had no choice because the girl did not testify.
The woman, now in her 30s and identified in court records as Minor 1, will be the government’s star witness.
During the trial, she is referred to in court by a single pseudonym, Jane.
She is expected to provide evidence that she had sex with Kelly on video.
A key focus will be whether Kelly threatened Minor 1 and paid.
That’s the allegation that supports one of the charges against Kelly, conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Kelly also faces four charges of seducing a minor into sex, one each for four other accusers.
They are also expected to make a statement.
Two Kelly employees, Derrel McDavid and Milton Brown, are co-defendants.
McDavid is accused of helping Kelly fix the 2008 trial, while Brown is accused of receiving child pornography.
Like Kelly, they have also denied wrongdoing.
The jury was set Tuesday night with prosecutors and defense attorneys who argued towards the end of the trial whether the government was improperly trying to keep some black people off the jury.
Kelly is black.
About half of the 12 jurors called by the judge, prosecutor and defense attorneys identified them as black.
There are also five deputies.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/music/opening-arguments-made-as-r-kelly-faces-trial-on-sex-charges-41919257.html Opening arguments as R Kelly faces trial over sex allegations