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Court told R. Kelly paid witnesses to keep quiet about alleged underage tapes

Prosecutors contend R. Kelly, pictured in 2008, recorded multiple sexual encounters with underaged girls and then paid people who were aware of them not to talk, a federal courtroom was told on the opening day of his latest criminal trial. File Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI
Prosecutors contend R. Kelly, pictured in 2008, recorded multiple sexual encounters with underaged girls and then paid people who were aware of them not to talk, a federal courtroom was told on the opening day of his latest criminal trial. File Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI

Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Prosecutors contend R. Kelly recorded multiple sexual encounters with underaged girls and then paid people who were aware of them not to talk, a federal courtroom was told on the opening day of his latest criminal trial Wednesday.

The former R&B star, whose legal name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, is on trial in his home city of Chicago on child pornography and obstruction of justice charges stemming from 2008.

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He is accused of coercing five children into sex acts and creating child pornography between September 1998 and September 1999, according to court records.

Outlining their case on Wednesday, federal prosecutors say several people knew about the illegal VHS tapes but the Grammy Award winner paid them to keep quiet about his actions.

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Prosecutors say he went so far as to pay for the family of one of his victims to leave the United States to remain silent. They also allege he had his employees conceal identity and connection to him or any recordings.

Kelly's accusers were all between the ages of 12 and 17 when they first met him, according to court documents. All five alleged victims are expected to testify at the trial, which will not be televised.

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Prosecutors said Wednesday they will play three of four tapes for the jury, with one directly linked to the 2008 allegations. The others are believed to be related to other alleged victims.

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"Robert Kelly had sex with multiple children. He made videotapes having sex with multiple children," U.S. Assistant Attorney Jason Julien told the court.

"This trial is not complicated in terms of what the issues are."

Kelly, 55, was already found guilty in September in a Federal Court in Brooklyn.

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He was convicted on all nine counts, including racketeering, the sexual exploitation of children, forced labor and transporting girls across state lines to engage in illegal sexual activity.

Also on Wednesday, Kelly's fiancée, Joycelyn Savage, said she is pregnant with the singer's baby.

Savage told Entertainment Tonight that she is five months pregnant.

Kelly's lawyers denied the pregnancy when contacted by the outlet.

In January 2019, the six-part documentary series "Surviving R. Kelly" was released by Lifetime and brought renewed concern over the singer's checkered history after several women claimed on camera that they had survived sexual abuse at Kelly's hands.

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