R. Kelly, whose complete name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, was once dubbed the ‘King of R&B,’ a hitmaker for himself as well as collaborators ranging from Justin Bieber to the legendary Celine Dion. Today, Kelly is implicated in multiple offenses, including sexual manipulation of a child, kidnapping, bribery, cross-state sexual trafficking, and forced labor but has pled not guilty to all counts leveled against him. Kelly has been detained from July 2019, pending the commencement of his court case in New York. The long delays in New York were caused by the coronavirus pandemic, additional charges filed by both panels of prosecutors, and waves of reorganization on Kelly’s defense team. A second federal court case on other accusations of obstruction and child pornography will be held in Illinois.
As the first day of R. Kelly’s federal trial unwinds, testimony has begun. However, because of ongoing COVID-19 regulations at the Brooklyn courts where the case is being heard, the public and press are constrained to overflow courthouses equipped with audio and video feeds.
First on the stands amongst the alleged victims was Jerhonda Johnson Pace. Pace informed the jurors R. Kelly discovered she was a minor in 2009 while they had sexual relations in Chicago, where the consensual age is 17 years. Now 28, she claimed that she first told Mr. Kelly she was 19 but disclosed her true age when they first had intercourse.
In her opening remarks, Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Melendez labeled Kelly, a ‘predator.’ She informed the jurors that R Kelly was ‘a person who capitalized on his popularity, fame, and the people at his command to pursue and recruit kids, boys, and underage women for his sexual satisfaction.’ On the other hand, Nicole Blank Becker, Kelly’s defense attorney, is trying to portray the plaintiffs as frauds who were in legitimate long-term relationships with Kelly. ‘They will convince you that Mr. Kelly is this maniac. You will also learn that several of these interactions were lovely,’ Becker stated.