R. Kelly’s trial opened on Monday, August 9, 2021 in Federal Court in Brooklyn, New York, United States. Prosecuted in several cases for sexual abuse, kidnapping, corruption, but also forced labor over a period from 1994 to 2018, the interpreter of “I Believe I Can Fly”, accused by six women, including minors at the time of the facts, pleaded not guilty. On arrival at court, one of his lawyers, Me Deveraux Cannick, contented himself with making as few comments as possible to the press, believing that it was “of a Monday like any other.”
If for him, the opening of the trial was only an ordinary day, this case is in reality a long litany of chilling tales of sexual slavery and testimonies of victims cut off from all contact with their loved ones. Since these revelations, R. Kelly is considered to be “the biggest predator in the music industry”, a journalist’s formula Jim DeRogatis, who has been following the case for decades.
Now, it remains to name the jurors who will follow the trial of R. Kelly. This Tuesday, August 10, 2021, 18 jurors were dismissed, some suggesting that they would be unable to believe in the innocence of the singer and therefore, to demonstrate the necessary neutrality. The first testimonies of the protagonists will begin on August 18, 2021. In the meantime, return to the crucial points of this affair, reflection of an industry marked by omerta, and of a file which is based on the oppression of young mainly black women , from poor neighborhoods.
R. Kelly was indicted for pedophile acts as early as 2002
For 25 years, the singer from Chicago has aroused suspicion. R. Kelly was indeed regularly accompanied by very young girls during his career, whom he met on his own initiative in front of their school establishment or in shopping centers. In addition, in 1994, he married the singer Aaliyah, then aged 15, by having the identity card of the girl forged.
In 1998, he paid $ 250,000 to a young woman named Tiffany Hawkins, who claims she had sex at the age of 15 with the singer, who was 24 at the time. He then negotiates out of court with Tracy Sampson, who accuses him of having had sex with her when she was 17. Then, in 2002, a sum was paid to Patrice Jones. At the time, the young woman claims to have fallen pregnant with the star and to have been forced to abort. She was 16 at the time of the incident.
All this, without counting another confidential sum paid to a woman who accuses him of having filmed their sexual intercourse without her knowledge. For the 2002 Olympics, R. Kelly performed on stage. At the same time, the Chicago Sun Times unveils a video of the singer urinating on an underage girl, but the accused denies the facts. That year, he was charged with 21 counts of child pornography after the video was leaked. The jury ends up finding him not guilty.
In addition to his songs with ultra-sexual texts, suspicions of abuse were therefore regular, and the artist was faced with legal proceedings in 2002. Then in 2008, he was charged with 14 counts of child pornography. But this trial ended in acquittal and the singer was no longer worried until the year 2019.
Read also : R. Kelly accused of pedophilia: why the silence is breaking now?
Terrible documentary on R. Kelly moved the case forward
It’s at the end of the documentary Surviving R. Kelly, which aired on Lifetime in 2019, that the pop star, now 55, faced legal action again. In this very hard-to-watch film, several women claim to have been the “sex slaves” of the singer when they were 16 years old. Manipulation, psychological control and forced sexual relations … Surviving R. Kelly, a 6-episode documentary series, was a shock wave around the world.
The film even changed the game as regards the legal proceedings against the singer who was no longer worried at all and was continuing his career without a hitch. He is now indicted in four legal proceedings in three different states of the United States: Illinois, New York and Minnesota.
The stars dissociate themselves from R. Kelly: the end of an idolatry?
If the victims have emerged from the silence for several years, the consequences on R. Kelly’s career have only recently been felt. John Legend was the only personality to participate in the filming of Surviving R. Kelly and to defend the accusers of the singer and producer. Others, for their part, admitted regretting their collaboration with the interpreter of “I Believe I Can Fly.”
Lady Gaga, herself a rape victim, had confided in her subject on social networks. “I cannot go back, but I can continue to support the women, men and people of all gender identities, of all ethnicities, who are victims of sexual assault. I am sorry, both for my lack of discernment when I was young, and also not to have spoken earlier “, she explained, referring to her collaboration with R. Kelly on her hit “Do What u Want.”