After a few delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic, R. Kelly’s trial is finally making headway. On Monday (Aug. 9), the search for the 12 jurors and six alternates began in a Brooklyn federal court, where he faces multiple racketeering and sex trafficking charges.
As the Associated Press reported, U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly questioned potential jurors about their ability to remain objective despite well-known allegations against Kelly, reminding them that he was presumably innocent in the case. Other audio was often faint, as members of the press were restricted from entering the courtroom and were only allowed to view video feeds of the proceeding.
Kelly — who has been in custody since July 2019 —was initially housed in Chicago before he was transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn for the upcoming trial. He is facing charges of child sexual exploitation, child pornography production, kidnapping, forced labor, racketeering and obstruction of justice in connection to allegations that he instructed his employees to recruit women and underage girls for sex. He has maintained his innocence throughout years of accusations.
Opening statements for Kelly’s trial begin on Aug. 18. Per AP, several of his accusers — who will be addressed solely by their first names — will testify during the trial. Prosecutors are also planning to prove that the singer paid for then 15-year-old Aaliyah’s fake ID ahead of their 1994 secret marriage.
They may also bring up his alleged years-long relationship with 17-year-old boy aka John Doe No. 1, who the singer introduced to John Doe No. 2 — another teenage boy that Kelly allegedly had a sexual relationship with. Kelly’s lawyers have filed a motion to dismiss the latter, noting that potential jurors were not asked about their thoughts on same-sex relationships and could possibly be homophobic.
As for allegations about him luring women at his concerts, Kelly’s defense team said that his client’s alleged victims “were dying to be with him” and only started the allegations amid the height of the #MeToo era.