A jury has been selected for the sex trafficking trial of disgraced R&B singer/producer R. Kelly.
According to a US Department of Justice spokesperson, seven men and five women have been selected and sworn in as jurors for Kelly’s federal trial in New York. Opening statements and testimony begin August 18. The jurors will remain anonymous and partially sequestered. The trial is expected to last a month.
The former recording star and record producer – once named the “The King of R&B” faces multiple allegations that he sexually abused women and girls for decades.
The 54-year-old R&B crooner, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, is accused of enlisting help from his employees to lure women and girls into having sex with him — with some victims allegedly traveling from out of state to be with him.
In an unusual move for a trial of this magnitude, the public and media will be unable to watch in person.
The “I Believe I Can Fly” singer also faces allegations that he and others conspired to create a fake ID for Aaliyah — the singer who died in a plane crash at age 22 in 2001.
He’s accused of abusing her while she was underage and planned to marry her so that she couldn’t testify against him, prosecutors say.
Kelly — who’s been behind bars both in Chicago and in Brooklyn since his arrest in 2019 — has denied the charges, claiming that the relationships were consensual ones with groupies.
He also faces separate criminal cases in Minnesota and Illinois for alleged sex crimes.
Attorneys representing multiple media outlets requested to have at least a limited pool of reporters allowed into the courtroom, a request that US District Judge Ann Donnelly denied, citing the need to spread out jurors in the gallery and saying it would be “inappropriate to seat the jurors with members of the public, including reporters, even if there were adequate space.”
Prosecutors allege that Kelly ran a “criminal enterprise” encompassing his staff, bodyguards, and various others who were tasked with procuring girls to have sex with Kelly. Prosecutors say when Kelly performed at concerts, Kelly or members of his enterprise would invite women and girls backstage and to events after the shows, and on occasion, to travel to see him throughout the country. Prosecutors have charged that Kelly took sexually explicit videos or photographs with multiple girls who were minors. They allege that, at times, the girls and women Kelly had sex with would be kept in rooms “for days at a time with no access to food.”In addition to the multiple charges levied against Kelly involving women – some of whom were underage – prosecutors also allege that Kelly abused a boy who was under 18 in 2006. Prosecutors say that Kelly met an unidentified 17-year-old boy at a Chicago McDonald’s and invited him to his studio to mentor him in the music business and that Kelly allegedly asked him “what he was willing to do to succeed in the music business” and had sexual contact with him, according to a court filing. Prosecutors said at a hearing Tuesday that this victim is expected to testify.