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Opening arguments begin in R. Kelly sex trafficking trial in NYC

By Zarrin Ahmed
1/5
Opening arguments begin in R. Kelly sex trafficking trial in NYC
Prosecutors contend that Kelly was involved in a major sex trafficking enterprise that enlisted help from managers, bodyguards, drivers and personal assistants as far back as 1992. File Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 18 (UPI) -- R. Kelly will be back in a New York City courtroom on Wednesday to face federal charges that he sexually assaulted women and girls for years while he was one of the world's most prominent R&B singers.

Opening arguments are scheduled to begin Wednesday in the trial at a federal courthouse in Brooklyn.

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Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, has pleaded not guilty to all charges -- which include racketeering, sexual exploitation of children and kidnapping and trafficking women and girls for sex.

Kelly also faces charges in Chicago, but both proceedings have been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Attorneys began jury selection for the Brooklyn trial last week.

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Kelly's trial is expected to last for six to eight weeks.

Prosecutors are expected to call multiple women to the stand to testify about their experiences with the singer, including some who have not yet spoken in public about the accusations.

U.S. District Court Judge Ann Donnelly has barred media and attendees from the courtroom, partially due to COVID-19 restrictions and the nature of the charges.

RELATED R. Kelly sex trafficking trial to begin in NYC after several delays

Donnelly sought assurances that the 12 jurors and six alternates would remain impartial in light of previous news coverage and Kelly's prominent celebrity status.

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Prosecutors contend that Kelly, 54, was involved in a major sex trafficking enterprise that enlisted help from managers, bodyguards, drivers and personal assistants who would recruit women and girls to engage in sexual activity as far back as 1992.

Defense attorneys have argued that the women sought out Kelly and only began to accuse him of abuse with the rise of the #MeToo movement around 2018.

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Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges during a separate trial in Chicago in 2008.

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