R. Kelly sex abuse trial begins with shocking opening remarks

Brooklyn, New York - R. Kelly's long-awaited federal trial began in New York on Wednesday with opening statements from both prosecutors and his defense team.

On Wednesday, R. Kelly's long awaited criminal trial began with opening remarks from his defense team and prosecutors.
On Wednesday, R. Kelly's long awaited criminal trial began with opening remarks from his defense team and prosecutors.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

After several delays and pushbacks, the 54-year-old finally arrived at Brooklyn’s Federal District Court.

R. Kelly has pleaded not guilty to the charges of racketeering, coercion, bribery and transporting girls for "immoral" acts.

US Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez led the opening remarks by calling the singer a predator who abused and took advantage of fans around the country.

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"This case is about a predator who for decades used fame, popularity and a network of associates to groom girls, boys and young women for his own sexual purposes," she expressed.

Melendez went into harrowing detail that highlighted alleged stories from his victims, including women who said they were locked in the singer's studio for days on end and not allowed to eat or use the bathroom.

The prosecutor continued that R. Kelly "used his money, clout and public persona to hide his crimes in plain sight and surrounded himself with a team whose purpose was to promote his music and brand and fulfill his wishes and demands."

On the opposing side, the singer's defense slammed his accusers, identified as Jane Does in court, and claimed that they "all became like a family" and "when the relationships went sour...these individuals became angry, resentful and even spiteful."

"He didn't recruit them. They were fans. They came to Mr Kelly," his attorney Nicole Blank Bleeker claimed.

She further alleged that some of his accusers were women who enjoyed the "notoriety of being able to tell their friends that they were with a superstar."

"Don't assume everybody's telling the truth. They knew exactly what they were getting into. It was no secret Mr Kelly had multiple girlfriends. He was quite transparent," the lawyer added.

Will R. Kelly serve time?

R. Kelly appeared at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago in 2019.
R. Kelly appeared at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago in 2019.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Could this case become the next trial of the century?

The trial is set to last for the next month, with Kelly's accusers taking the stand and a jury consisting of seven men and five women that will determine the artist's fate.

R. Kelly, who's legal name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, is also facing sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota – though he has vehemently denied those crimes as well.

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The cases come after the Step In The Name Of Love singer was arrested in 2019.

However, this isn't the first time R. Kelly has faced sexual abuse accusations.

13 years ago, the songwriter was acquitted of child pornography charges.

He's also gotten criticism for his brief marriage to the late singer Aaliyah, who was 15-years-old at the time. R. Kelly and Aaliyah's illegitimate marriage may also come into play during the current court case.

Additionally, the I Believe I Can Fly singer's request to have the newest charges against him dropped has been dismissed by a judge.

Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

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