R. Kelly sex trafficking trial is officially underway, starting with opening statements.
Kelly, 54, whose birth name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, faces state and federal charges for sex trafficking, racketeering, coercion and other charges related to the alleged abuse and exploitation of six women — three of whom were underage at the time — over the course of 25 years.
If convicted, he could be sentenced up to 20 years in prison.
Three of Kelly’s alleged victims intend to testify. The women have accused him of controlling their lives and claimed he subjected them to psychological and physical abuse. In addition, his alleged victims say he banned them from looking at other men and forced them to address him as “Daddy.” They also claim he paid them hush money. Kelly’s team has characterized his accusers as “disgruntled groupies.”
Last week, a jury of seven men and five women, along with six alternates, were sworn in by Judge Ann Donnelly. The jurors will remain anonymous and will be partially sequestered.
It has been reported that, among the evidence expected to be presented during trial, the jury will hear about the singer’s brief controversial marriage to Aaliyah, whom prosecutors say was 15 at the time.
Kelly also faces a separate indictment in Chicago for allegations regarding child pornography. That trial is scheduled to begin in September.
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