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'This Case Is About a Predator'

R. Kelly's sex abuse trial is finally underway
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 18, 2021 11:30 AM CDT
R. Kelly's Sex Abuse Trial Is Finally Underway
R. Kelly's attorney Nicole Becker is surrounded by reporters as she arrives at Brooklyn federal court for opening statements in the R&B star's long-anticipated federal trial, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, in New York.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

(Newser) – A prosecutor described sex abuse claims against R&B star R. Kelly Wednesday, saying the long-anticipated trial now underway was "about a predator" who used his fame to entice girls, boys, and young women before dominating and controlling them physically, sexually, and psychologically. "This case is not about a celebrity who likes to party a lot," Assistant US Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez told the Brooklyn jury of seven men and five women as she explained the evidence to be revealed at his federal trial. "This case is about a predator." From the AP:

  • It started with backstage passes. Melendez said he invited children and women to join him after shows by distributing backstage passes. Once he had them alone, Melendez said, he "dominated and controlled them physically, sexually, and psychologically."

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  • He allegedly recorded illegal acts. The prosecutor said Kelly would often record sex acts with minors as he controlled a racketeering enterprise of individuals who were loyal and devoted to him, eager to "fulfill each and everyone one of the defendant’s wishes and demands." "What his success and popularity brought him was access, access to girls, boys, and young women," she said.
  • Multiple "Jane Does." Prosecutors in Brooklyn have lined up multiple female accusers—mostly referred to in court as "Jane Does"—and cooperating former associates who have never spoken publicly before about their experiences with Kelly. They're expected to offer testimony about how Kelly's managers, bodyguards and other employees helped him recruit women and girls—and sometimes boys—for sexual exploitation. They say the group arranged for victims to travel to see Kelly in violation of the Mann Act, the 1910 law that made it illegal to "transport any woman or girl” across state lines "for any immoral purpose."
  • Prosecutors say they had to call him "Daddy." When the women and girls arrived at their lodgings, a member of Kelly’s entourage would set down rules about not speaking to each other, how they should dress, and how they needed permission from Kelly before eating or going to the bathroom, prosecutors say. Also, they allegedly were required to call him "Daddy."
  • The defense argument. Defense lawyers have countered by saying Kelly’s alleged victims were groupies who turned up at his shows and made it known they "were dying to be with him." The women only started accusing him of abuse years later when public sentiment shifted against him, they said.
  • Kelly lawyer: "They knew what they were getting into." In her opening statement, Kelly's attorney, Nicole Blank Becker, portrayed her client as a victim of women, some of whom enjoyed the "notoriety of being able to tell their friends that they were with a superstar.” "He didn’t recruit them. They were fans. They came to Mr. Kelly," she said, urging jurors to closely scrutinize the testimony. "They knew exactly what they were getting into. It was no secret Mr. Kelly had multiple girlfriends. He was quite transparent."
(Read more R. Kelly stories.)

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