5 Things To Know About R. Kelly’s Upcoming Trial

If convicted, the R&B singer could face the rest of his life behind bars.

December 30, 2019

R. Kelly [David Wolff - Patrick GETTY]

R. Kelly [David Wolff - Patrick GETTY]

By: Aaron Rasmussen

Robert Sylvester Kelly shot to fame in the 1990s as R. Kelly, but multiple accusations of sexual misconduct against him over the years have tarnished his reputation. Federal investigators are now reportedly digging deep into Kelly’s past as they prepare to take him to trial in the coming months.

His Legal Issues Came To A Head In 2019

Kelly, 52, is fighting accusations of sexual misconduct from at least a dozen women. Authorities in February arrested him on 10 counts of sexual abuse. He pleaded not guilty and was released after posting $1 million bond. In May, the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer faced an additional 11 counts, and in July, authorities arrested him on federal charges that include racketeering, sex with underage girls, coercion and physical abuse, according to The Guardian. Kelly again pleaded not guilty, but the judge denied him bond. Kelly remains behind bars in Chicago. His trial is set to begin in April 2020.

He Allegedly Used Extreme Tactics Against Females

In New York, federal prosecutors have accused Kelly of using extreme tactics to keep women and girls under his control. His alleged victims had to address him as “Daddy,” were required to wear baggy clothing when not with him, and were forced to ask him for permission to eat and use the bathroom, according to a copy of the Brooklyn indictment obtained by The New York Times.

Investigators Are Digging Into Kelly’s Past

The Brooklyn indictment accuses Kelly of racketeering for allegedly recruiting fans and underage girls for sex. The charge, often used against accused members of the mafia, allows federal prosecutors to sidestep the statute of limitations and introduce previous allegations made against Kelly, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Kelly was Previously Tried on Child Pornography Charges

Kelly was acquitted of 14 child pornography counts in 2008 after prosecutors accused him of making a sex tape with an underage girl. At the time, Kelly’s defense team argued the identities of the individuals in the video could not be confirmed despite multiple prosecution witnesses positively identifying them.

“All of us felt the grayness of the case," a juror told reporters after the trial. DePaul University law professor Leonard Cavisse told The New York Times that Kelly’s fame might have worked in the star’s favor. “The jury gave him the extra benefit of the doubt because of who he is, just like the O. J. Simpson jury,” he said. The alleged victim in the 2008 trial, now in her 30s, refused to testify. She is now reportedly working with investigators.

New Claims Are Still Surfacing

In early December 2019, federal prosecutors accused Kelly of bribing a government employee in Illinois in 1994 for a fake ID identifying then-15-year-old singer Aaliyah Dana Haughton as 18. The teen and Kelly, who was in his late 20s at the time, allegedly used the fraudulent ID to obtain a marriage license so they could secretly wed. The marriage was later annulled. Aaliyah died in a 2001 plane crash at age 22.

According to The Associated Press, if convicted on all charges he's now facing, Kelly could face a combined maximum prison sentence of more than 500 years. “That amount of time, in your 50s, means you’re leaving prison in a box,” Gal Pissetzky, a Chicago trial lawyer who has practiced law in federal court, told The AP.

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