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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: R. Kelly walks contained in the Legal Courtroom Constructing as he arrives for a listening to on eleven new counts of felony sexual abuse, in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., June 6, 2019. REUTERS/Daniel Acker

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By Brendan Pierson and Karen Freifeld

NEW YORK (Reuters) – R. Kelly is a “predator” who demanded absolute fealty from the numerous girls and underage ladies he recruited for intercourse in a two-decade racketeering scheme, a federal prosecutor stated on Wednesday because the R&B celebrity’s intercourse abuse trial started.

Assistant U.S. Lawyer Maria Melendez instructed a jury of seven males and 5 girls in Brooklyn federal court docket that Kelly used “lies, manipulation, threats and bodily abuse” to dominate his victims, and infrequently filmed their sexual encounters.

Melendez stated Kelly, 54, would require victims to get his permission earlier than doing just about something, together with going to the toilet, and blackmail them by threatening to launch self-incriminating letters he compelled them to put in writing in the event that they fled.

“This case is a few predator,” Melendez stated in her opening assertion. “This case is just not a few superstar who likes to occasion quite a bit.”

Kelly, a three-time Grammy winner whose songs embody “I Imagine I Can Fly” and “Bump N’ Grind,” has pleaded not responsible to a nine-count indictment that additionally consists of accusations of bribery and extortion. He has strongly denied wrongdoing.

Prosecutors will argue that Kelly, whose full identify is Robert Sylvester Kelly, used an entourage of managers, bodyguards and others to recruit girls and ladies, generally at live shows, for him to abuse.

They’ve stated Kelly demanded “absolute dedication” from victims, together with that they not have a look at different males and that they name him “Daddy.”

Some feminine accusers, recognized by first names or nicknames, and no less than one male accuser are anticipated to testify for the federal government.

Kelly’s authorized crew has characterised the accusers as “disgruntled groupies” who had pined to be with him, solely to alter their tales later.

The trial was delayed a number of occasions by the coronavirus pandemic and is predicted to final about one month.

It’s the end result of years of suspicions and accusations towards Kelly, many mentioned within the 2019 Lifetime documentary “Surviving R. Kelly,” and practically 4 years after the beginning of the #MeToo period.

Kelly has been jailed for greater than two years, and will face many years in jail if convicted.

Even when he’s acquitted, he nonetheless faces sex-related expenses in Illinois and Minnesota, the place he has additionally pleaded not responsible.

AALIYAH

The indictment describes Kelly’s alleged mistreatment of 5 Jane Doe victims, Jane Does No. 2 by way of No. 6, three of whom had been underage on the time. One accuser stated Kelly engaged in unprotected intercourse together with her with out revealing he had herpes.

Melendez stated one accuser, Sonya, was sexually abused practically twenty years in the past at Kelly’s studio in Chicago, the place the 22-year-old hoped to interview him for a radio station the place she labored.

The prosecutor stated Sonya was locked in a room on the studio for 3 days, and misplaced consciousness quickly after being let loose and fed.

Upon awakening, Sonya felt wetness between her legs, noticed Kelly fastening his pants, and realized she had been sexually assaulted, Melendez stated.

Prosecutors may also attempt to present Kelly bribed an Illinois official in 1994 to acquire pretend identification for the singer Aaliyah, then 15, in order that they might marry.

Kelly, in keeping with prosecutors, believed he had impregnated Aaliyah, and hoped a wedding would hold her from having to testify towards him.

A wedding license confirmed Aaliyah’s age as 18, prosecutors stated. Aaliyah, recognized as Jane Doe No. 1 within the indictment, died in a 2001 aircraft crash.

Eight counts within the indictment allege violations of the federal Mann Act, which makes it against the law to move individuals throughout state traces for prostitution.

Rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry is amongst different well-known individuals convicted underneath that regulation. The actor and filmmaker Charlie Chaplin was acquitted of the cost.

Kelly was acquitted of kid pornography expenses at a 2008 trial in Illinois.

Kelly final launched a studio album in 2016. His profession stalled following the Lifetime documentary and the most recent expenses, and Kelly’s attorneys stated this month his “funds have been depleted.”