R. Kelly Is on Trial Again

New federal trial could add decades to his sentence
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2022 1:38 PM CDT
R. Kelly's Chicago Trial Begins
R. Kelly's defense attorneys, Ashley Cohen, left, and Jennifer Bonjean, walk into the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in Chicago, Monday, Aug. 15, 2022.   (Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

R. Kelly is back in Chicago but it's not exactly a triumphant homecoming for the R&B star. Kelly, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison in a federal sex abuse case in June, is back in his hometown for another federal trial that could add decades to his sentence. Jury selection began Monday, and the judge refused a motion from Kelly's defense team to exclude anybody who had seen the 2019 documentary Surviving R. Kelly, which detailed the sexual abuse allegations against him. Prosecutors say evidence will be presented from a 23-year period, 1991 to 2014. More:

  • The new trial. In his trial in federal court in New York, Kelly was found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking. In the Chicago trial, he faces 13 counts including creating and receiving child pornography, enticing minors into illegal sexual activity, and obstruction of justice, NPR reports. Kelly was acquitted in a 2008 trial on child pornography charges. Prosecutors say Kelly was charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly threatening and bribing a witness who could have testified in 2008.

  • A big difference from 2008. Court papers suggest that prosecutors now have the cooperation of "Minor 1," the woman who declined to testify in 2008 that she was the minor seen with Kelly in a 27-minute sex tape made years earlier, the New York Times reports. The woman, now in her mid-30s, is expected to testify that Kelly and her team worked to keep her quiet by flying her to the Bahamas and Mexico and giving her father hundreds of thousands of dollars, reports the Chicago Tribune. The indictment suggests that the woman's mother is also cooperating, as well as four other women who say Kelly coerced them into sex when they were underage.
  • Another difference. While Kelly still has plenty of supporters in Chicago, he was at the height of his fame during the 2008 trial, and he's now a convicted sex criminal. Defense attorney Jennifer Bonjean, whose previous clients include Bill Cosby, complained Friday that it will be "difficult to find 12 people who can be fair given the media war on my client."
  • Kelly's co-defendants. Two former Kelly employees, Derrel McDavid and Milton Brown, are co-defendants. Prosecutors say McDavid helped Kelly fix the 2008 trial, while Brown is charged with receiving child pornography for allegedly assisting Kelly's efforts to recover tapes of him having sex with minors, the AP reports.
  • An "emotional moment" in Chicago. The Times describes the trial as an "emotional moment" for people in Chicago who witnessed Kelly's rise to fame and fall from grace. "There are people who are going to be very upset and will again try to insist that the girls are at fault, and there are going to be people—and I am one of them—who are going to say 59,000 times: He is a grown man preying on very young women and children," says writer Mikki Kendall.
  • This probably won't be his last trial. Kelly still faces state sex crime charges in Minnesota and Illinois, which will be dealt with after the Chicago trial. The 55-year-old also faces multiple lawsuits.
(More R. Kelly stories.)

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