Jurors at R. Kelly’s trial in Chicago will be shown a graphic video of the disgraced singer allegedly having sex with 14-year-old girl.
The R&B star, 55, who is already serving a 30-year prison sentence, is charged in federal court in his hometown of Chicago with enticing of minors for sex, producing child pornography, and rigging his 2008 pornography trial at which he was acquitted.
U.S. Assistant Attorney Jason Julien said during opening statements on Wednesday August 17, that much of the world knew Kelly by his hit song ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ but argued that was ‘Kelly’s public side.’
‘Kelly had another side … a hidden side, a dark side,’ he said. ‘This trial is about Kelly’s hidden side.’
Julien sought to give jurors a sense of the scale of Kelly’s alleged exploitation, saying he ‘repeatedly’ had sex with girls who were just 14, 15 and 16 years old – ‘multiple girls, hundreds of times.’
The trial comes after Kelly was jailed for racketeering and sex trafficking in June, when he was found guilty of sexual abuse which spanned over decades. He was being held at a Brooklyn jail and was recently transferred to Chicago’s Metropolitan Correctional Center.
Lawyers for two of Kelly co-defendants will address jurors before the government begins calling witnesses later on Wednesday. Prosecutors have not said who they will call first.
The trial is expected to last about a month.
This trial is centered around the accusations that Kelly enticed minors for sex, produced child pornography, and fixed his 2008 state child pornography trial at which he was acquitted.
One central focus of the trial this month will be on whether Kelly threatened and paid off a girl with who he allegedly videotaped himself having sex with.
Kelly was about 30, and the girl was no older than 14.
That is the allegation underpinning another of the charges against Kelly, conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Jurors in the 2008 child pornography trial acquitted Kelly, with some later explaining that they felt they had no choice because the girl did not give evidence.
The woman, now in her 30s and referred to in court filings only as Minor 1, will be the government’s star witness.
When she gives evidence, prosecutors explained in court Monday, that they will not use her real name and will not refer to her as Minor 1. Instead, they will call her by a single pseudonym, Jane.
The disgraced singer was handed a 30-year sentence earlier this year on charges that he used his fame to sexually abuse other young fans.
Kelly spent more than a year being held at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center. Immediately following his sentencing, he was placed on suicide watch.
The US Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn filed court papers saying Kelly remained on suicide watch ‘for his own safety,’ following a psychological assessment.
Kelly’s attorney, Bonjean, filed a lawsuit alleging prison officials placed Kelly on suicide watch ‘solely for punitive purposes and because of his status as a high-profile inmate.’
Bonjean argued the measure was in violation of Kelly’s Eighth Amendment rights as he had no thoughts of harming himself. The suicide watch was eventually lifted.
He was convicted of sex trafficking and racketeering charges last September, following a six-week trial that amplified the accusations. He has denied wrongdoing.
The ‘I Believe I Can Fly Singer’ committed the heinous acts for decades before he was convicted.
During the sentencing, the judge said Kelly created ‘a trail of broken lives,’ adding that ‘the most seasoned investigators will not forget the horrors your victims endured.
‘These crimes were calculated and carefully planned and regularly executed for almost 25 years,’ she said. ‘You taught them that love is enslavement and violence.’
Lizzette Martinez, one of the victims at the June hearing, said she doesn’t think Kelly’s sentence is enough ‘but [was] pleased with it.’
Martinez described herself to the reporters as an ‘up-and-coming singer, a girl full of life’ before she met R Kelly and became ‘a sex slave.’