The opening arguments in R Kelly’s child pornography and obstruction trial have begun, with prosecutors arguing that the disgraced musician and convicted sex offender has a ‘dark and hidden’ side that the public do not see.
The R&B singer, real name Robert Sylvester Kelly, was last year sentenced to 30 years in prison after being convicted of sex trafficking and racketeering charges.
Now he is back in court on child pornography and obstruction charges and is facing 13 charges including creating and receiving child pornography, obstruction of justice and enticing minors into sexual activity.
Kelly, 55, previously faced a similar trial in 2008 and was accused of trying to rig it by bribing witnesses. He was acquitted at the time.
However, prosecutors said in their opening statements that one video that was at the centre of the 2008 will be shown in the trial.
An anonymous woman, who is being called Jane, will testify that she appeared in an alleged sex tape with Kelly when she was 13 or 14 and he was 31.
In 2008, Kelly and Jane both denied it was them in the video. Jane did not previously testify.
Prosecutors have alleged that Kelly made four separate videos with Jane and that segments will be shown to jurors.
In her opening statement, Kelly’s defence attorney Jennifer Bonjean reminded the court that he deserves a fair trial.
‘There is no R. Kelly exception,’ Jennifer Bonjean said. ‘It is true that Mr Kelly is imperfect. It is true that, on his journey from poverty to stardom, that he stumbled along the way. We won’t deny that.’
She argued that the government is taking advantage of a series of documentaries.
This week, Judge Harry Leinenweber reportedly denied a request from Kelly’s attorneys to reject members of the public who had watched any part of Lifetime’s Surviving R Kelly, which first hit screens in 2019.
The series, which later got a second season, delved behind the scenes of the many headlines about Kelly’s relationships and the sex abuse charges he had faced.
In June, Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison after being convicted of sex trafficking and racketeering charges.
Following a six-week trial in Brooklyn, Kelly was found guilty on all nine counts against him, including multiple counts of racketeering, with the charges relating to bribery and forced labour, by a jury in September last year.
Kelly – who denied all charges – was also found in violation of an anti-sex trafficking law known as the Mann Act.
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