Robert Kelly, 54, who has been under lock-and-key since 2019, will face a federal court jury of his peers starting next week as his first trial begins next week in Brooklyn, New York City.
The former R&B star is being tried on multiple charges of sex-trafficking, kidnapping and racketeering, charges that are said to have been in operation for two decades, and used his managers, bodyguards, drivers, and personal assistants to recruit women and underage girls for sex.
According to CNN, jury selection has gone underway Monday, Aug. 9, with opening arguments to begin on Aug. 18. Kelly was moved from the Chicago jail to the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in June, after repeated attempts at gaining his release on bail due to the COVID-19 pandemic were turned down. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him in all of the cases brought forth.
Kelly has been in lock up since 2019 while awaiting four separate state and federal trials. In addition to the aforementioned charges, Kelly also has the sexual exploitation of children and forced labor on his docket. After jury selection, the New York trial is anticipated to last between six and eight weeks. If convicted in New York, he could possibly face up to 20 years in prison.
He was previously acquitted in 2008 of child pornography charges in Illinois.
Above, Asante McGee, who lived with the singer in his home in 2016 shares her allegations with CBS This Morning, where she details the severe abuse experiences and her hopes for the trial.
Hundreds of potential jurors will be screened, hearing the many allegations, which also include claims Kelly took sexually explicit videos or photographs with multiple girls who were minors. He is also accused of keeping some women and girls, much like McGee says in the video, in rooms for days at a time without food.
U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly made the announcement to ban the public from the courtroom due to rising COVID-19 cases throughout New York City and the country. Jurors would be socially distanced throughout the gallery where reporters and other members of the public would normally sit. A video feed would be shown in a separate “overflow” room during the trial.
Expected to testify first during the Brooklyn federal trial is a man identified as “John Doe #1,” a person who claims Kelly asked him to influence a juror in the 2008 Illinois case. The witness will testify that he told Kelly that he had access to one of the jurors in that trial.
A man who alleges that Kelly abused him when he was under the age of 18 is also expected to take the stand.
He claims that Kelly used his position in the music industry to serve as a “mentor” to him, which led to having sexual contact with Kelly.
Around half a dozen women and young girls are involved in these federal court proceedings. Their names have not been made public and some of them can actually testify during the August trial, yet Judge Donnelly said only their first names would be made public if they were to take the stand.