CHICAGO (CBS) — Already delayed numerous times due to the pandemic, embattled singer R. Kelly’s federal trial on racketeering and sex crime charges is now scheduled for early April.
According to a joint filing from prosecutors and defense attorneys, juror questionnaires would be mailed out between March 15 and March 25, and jury selection would begin on April 6. The filing sets a tentative trial date of April 7, but notes that date might be adjusted depending on how long jury selection takes.
Federal prosecutors in New York have accused Kelly of using his fame to recruit young women and girls for illegal sexual activity. The racketeering case also accuses him of kidnapping, sexual exploitation of a child, and forced labor.
The New York indictment specifically charges Kelly with five felony counts, including racketeering and Mann Act violations, which involve transporting a person across state lines to engage in illegal sexual activity. The racketeering case also accuses him of kidnapping, sexual exploitation of a child, and forced labor.
The feds have said Kelly preyed on young women dreaming of meeting a superstar, and used his celebrity to coax some victims into “nefarious sex acts” while members of his entourage facilitated his conduct.
Court documents indicate that Kelly met one victim at a concert, and another at a radio station. Prosecutors claim Kelly arranged for some victims to meet him on the road for illegal sex.
Federal prosecutors said Kelly and his managers, bodyguards, and other employees acted as a criminal enterprise to recruit women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with Kelly. Kelly and his enterprise would pick out women and girls who attended his concerts and other events; and arranged for them to travel to see Kelly. He would later hold them against their will, according to the feds.
Once the women and girls Kelly had picked started staying with him, he and his employees would set rules his victims had to follow, including not leaving their rooms without Kelly’s permission, even to eat or go to the bathroom; not looking at other men; to wear baggy clothing whenever they weren’t with him; demanding absolute commitment to Kelly; and calling the singer “Daddy.”
Prosecutors claim Kelly coerced some of the girls he’d abused to engage in sexually explicit conduct on video, which he later had shipped across state lines.
A federal judge in Brooklyn originally scheduled Kelly’s trial for this past May, but that date has now been pushed back three times, as most court proceedings have been delayed due to the pandemic.
Kelly, 53, is being held without bail at the federal lockup in Chicago. He has denied all of the charges against him. He also faces sex crime charges in three other jurisdictions: Chicago’s federal court, Cook County Circuit Court, and Hennepin County court in Minnesota, but has yet to face trial in any of those cases.
Federal prosecutors in Chicago have charged him with videotaping himself having sex with underage girls, and paying hush money and intimidating witnesses to cover up his crimes. That trial had been scheduled for October, but also has been postponed indefinitely.
Cook County prosecutors have charged Kelly with multiple counts of sexual assault and sexual abuse against four women years ago. The first of those trials was scheduled for September, but has been delayed.
Minnesota prosecutors have charged him with engaging in prostitution with an underage girl. No trial date has been set in that case.
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