Article by: Dumisane Dube
The trial of the US R&B singer Robert Sylvester Kelly known as R. Kelly has begun in Brooklyn, New York. The star is accused of racketeering, sexual abuse and bribery. Some of the allegations made against the singer date back more than 20 years.
The trial, expected to last a month, finally began at a US federal court in Brooklyn after a delay of more than a year caused by the pandemic.
He is accused of operating a crime ring that systematically recruited and young girls for sexual relations, locking them in their rooms at hotels when he was on tour, instructing them to wear baggy clothing when not with him, “to keep their heads down” and to call the singer “daddy.”
R.Kelly has faced accusations including making child pornography, sex with minors, operating a sex cult and sexual battery, for years.
Assistant US Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez described Kelly as a man who used his fame, his popularity, and a network of people at his disposal to target, groom and exploit young girls, boys and women for his own sexual gratification.
According to Melendez R.Kelly used bodyguards, drivers runners, lawyers, and accountants to cover up crimes.
“R.Kelly exacted cruel and demeaning punishments to those who violated demands, including violent spankings and beatings,” the prosecutor added.
His career began to crumble in January 2019 after the release of the explosive docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly, which caused a stir on social media.
The New York trial is the first to put Kelly on the stand in connection with a raft of indictments, including sex crimes cases in Chicago and Illinois.
A jury of seven men and five women will decide Kelly’s fate. The singer has previously denied the charges against him
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