Home » Music News » R Kelly Trial For Alleged Sex-Trafficking Begins In New York: A Look At Charges Against The Singer

R Kelly Trial For Alleged Sex-Trafficking Begins In New York: A Look At Charges Against The Singer

In
the
mid-1990s,
there
was
no
getting
around
R
Kelly.
The
songwriter
and
producer
helped
music
greats
like
Michael
Jackson,
his
sister
Janet
Jackson,
and
Whitney
Houston
to
worldwide
success.
With
hits
like
‘I
Believe
I
Can
Fly’ and
‘Ignition’,
R
Kelly
sang
his
way
into
the
hearts
of
young
African-American
girls
in
particular.

But
then
he
was
accused
of
having
forced
several
young
girls
to
engage
in
sexual
activities,
allegedly
approaching
them
in
front
of
schools,
in
shopping
malls
or
after
concerts,
and
getting
them
to
submit
by
letting
them
hope
that
they,
too,
would
make
it
big
some
day.
Members
of
his
team
were
also
allegedly
involved
in
repeatedly
and
systematically
procuring
girls
for
him,
who
were
blackmailed
and
forced
to
have
sex.

R
Kelly
Denies
Accusations

Allegations
of
abuse
against
the
54-year-old
musician
have
been
around
for
more
than
a
quarter
of
a
century.
He
is
even
said
to
have
operated
a
sex
cult.
In
2008,
he
was
charged
with
producing
child
pornography.
But
the
case
was
dropped
for
lack
of
sufficient
evidence.

In
other
cases,
the
R&B
star
settled
out
of
court
with
the
plaintiffs.
Now,
Robert
Sylvester
Kelly
faces
trial
again.
And
this
time,
it
doesn’t
look
like
he’ll
be
able
to
get
off
the
hook
so
easily.
Opening
statements
will
be
heard
on
August
18,
2021.

Of
the
six
alleged
victims
at
the
centre
of
the
trial,
several
were
minors
at
the
time
of
the
events.
The
prosecution
has
also
decided
to
hear
from
about
15
other
witnesses
who
claim
to
have
been
sexually
or
physically
abused,
tortured
or
threatened
by
R
Kelly.

Bob Dylan Accused Of Sexually Abusing 12-Year-Old In 1965; Singer Denies AllegationsBob
Dylan
Accused
Of
Sexually
Abusing
12-Year-Old
In
1965;
Singer
Denies
Allegations

Key
Witness:
Late
Singer
Aaliyah

The
trial
also
centres
on
his
relationship
with
the
late
singer
Aaliyah
aka
Babygirl.
In
1993,
Kelly
took
the
then
14-year-old
under
his
wing
and
produced
her
debut
album,
Age
Ain’t
Nothing
But
A
Number.
In
the
ballad
of
the
same
name,
written
by
Kelly,
Aaliyah
sings
about
a
young
girl
who
dreams
of
an
older
lover.
The
album
was
released
in
May
1994,
and
rumours
were
already
circulating
at
the
time
that
Kelly
was
more
than
just
a
mentor
for
the
underage
singer.

This
speculation
was
confirmed
when
MTV
published
the
two
musicians’ marriage
certificate.
According
to
the
indictment,
Kelly
had
paid
an
Illinois
state
official
to
get
Aaliyah
a
fake
ID
so
he
could
marry
the
15-year-old.
When
her
parents
learnt
of
the
marriage,
they
immediately
had
it
annulled.
Identified
in
court
documents
as
Jane
Doe
#1,
Aaliyah,
who
died
in
a
plane
crash
in
2001,
posthumously
serves
as
a
key
witness
in
the
new
R
Kelly
trial.

R. Kelly and Aaliyah married on August 31, 1994, at which time the singer was 15 years old

Not
The
Exception
But
The
Rule

Aaliyah’s
case
“is
one
of
many,”
Kathy
Iandoli,
the
author
of
an
upcoming
Aaliyah
biography,
told
AFP
news
agency.
“When
the
trial
happens,
we’re
going
to
see
how
she
wasn’t
the
exception,
she
was
the
rule,”
she
added.

“For
the
first
time
the
marriage
is
being
seen
as
exactly
what
it
was:
a
piece
of
a
very
violent
puzzle,”
Iandoli
said,
adding
that
the
union
was
long
“sanitized,
and
made
to
seem
like
some
cutesy
love
story.”

#MuteRKelly

After
enjoying
more
than
a
decade
of
popularity
after
his
2008
acquittal,
R
Kelly’s
status
quickly
changed
following
the
broadcast
of
the
Lifetime
documentary
series

Surviving
R.
Kelly

in
early
2019.

Filmmaker
Dream
Hampton
had
become
aware
of
the
calls
for
a
boycott
by
the
#MuteRKelly
organisation
that
had
been
going
on
for
two
years
on
social
media.
Hampton
managed
to
get
John
Legend
and
Wendy
Williams
on
camera
to
speak
out
about
the
allegations
of
abuse.

The
survivors’
detailed
accounts
of
their
experiences
were
particularly
haunting:
One
of
Kelly’s
backing
singers
recounted
how
his
second
ex-wife,
Andrea
Kelly,
née
Lee,
had
to
ask
her
husband
for
permission
every
time
she
wanted
to
leave
the
room.

Another
recalled
Kelly
having
sex
with
an
underage
girl
in
his
studio
in
front
of
everyone.

Kitti
Jones,
a
US
presenter,
spoke
about
how
Kelly
tried
to
break
her
and
other
women.
Other
witnesses
recalled
violent
excesses
and
being
forced
into
group
sex
that
was
filmed.
The
image
that
emerges
is
that
of
an
unscrupulous,
ruthless
man
who
exploits
women
sexually
and
has
so
far
gotten
away
with
it.

“Activists,
mostly
Black
women
activists,
have
been
calling
for
his
accountability
for
decades,” Kenyette
Barnes,
co-founder
of
the
#MuteRKelly
movement,
told
AFP.
She
believes
that
Kelly’s
impunity
can
be
attributed
to
his
fame,
but
also
to
the
fact
that
the
voices
of
the
victims

usually
Black
women

were
silenced.

Since
the
last
trial,
the
#MeToo
movement
has
changed
perceptions
surrounding
abuse,
and
fame
and
money
probably
won’t
protect
him
from
impunity
this
time
around.

Kelly
Awaits
Trial
In
Jail

Kelly
and
his
management
reject
the
allegations,
calling
the
accusers
“troublemakers
and
liars”
seeking
“profit
and
fame”.

The
public
prosecutor’s
office,
on
the
other
hand,
takes
them
seriously
and
has
asked
possible
witnesses
and
victims
to
come
forward.
Half
a
year
after

Surviving
R.
Kelly

was
broadcast,
the
R&B
artist
was
arrested
while
walking
his
dog
in
Chicago.

The
trial
was
scheduled
to
begin
in
New
York
City
in
2020,
but
was
postponed
by
a
year
because
of
the
COVID-19
pandemic.
The
Grammy
Award
winner
also
faces
trials
in
Illinois
and
Minnesota.
If
he
is
found
guilty,
R
Kelly
could
face
decades
in
prison.


This
article
has
been
translated
from
German
by
Dagmar
Breitenbach.


Text
and
Photos:

DW
News


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