The list of allegations against R. Kelly is long, including sex with minors and physical violence. The alleged victims hope that the former pop star will now be held accountable for the first time.
New York – What did the first few days of the R. Kelly abuse trial bring?
The case of the former pop superstar is – after cases like those of film producer Harvey Weinstein, actor Kevin Spacey and comedian Bill Cosby – the next much-noticed legal reappraisal in the course of the #Me-Too era. And already a particularly impressive one, because such extensive allegations are being negotiated.
Once you heard him constantly on the radio, also in Germany. But for more than two decades there have been allegations of abuse and many other open questions about the life of the 54-year-old singer of hits like “The World’s Greatest” and “I Believe I Can Fly”. Did he bribe an official to be able to marry the then 15-year-old singer Aaliyah using forged birth documents in 1994? Has he really had sex with other minors multiple times? Did he film her during intercourse and then in humiliating situations so that he could pressurize her with compromising footage?
“This case is about a predator”, were the introductory words of public prosecutor Maria Cruz Melendez at the start of the trial, according to consistent media reports. He is “a man who, over decades, has used his fame, popularity and network of people he could dispose of to seek out, dress up and exploit girls, boys and young women for his own sexual satisfaction. This man, this predator, is the defendant, Robert Silvester Kelly – better known as R. Kelly. “
First testimony in court
The allegations that Melendez made on Wednesday are extensive, including sexual exploitation of minors, kidnapping and bribery. Kelly is said to have found his alleged victims with great finesse, specifically focused on minors and with psychological manipulation. Eating and going to the toilet of his victims were only possible with permission.
A first important witness also chose clear words. “I went to Rob’s house and Rob called me a stupid slut,” read the 28-year-old woman on Thursday from her diary, according to US journalists who followed the case in court. “Rob hit me three times. He said if I lie to him again, the next blow won’t be with the palm of my hand. He spat in my face and choked into my mouth and me during an argument, ”the woman further quoted from her diary entry. According to her, she had a relationship with the musician for half a year in 2009. She was only 14 years old when she met him and 16 years old when they had sex for the first time.
It is noteworthy that this process has now even come about. Because for decades Kelly was able to evade legal reappraisal. In 2008 he had to stand trial for the only time so far, at that time he was acquitted for allegedly possessing pictures of serious child sexual abuse. At the beginning of 2019, the TV documentary “Surviving R. Kelly” (for example: R. Kelly survive) caused a lot of public attention, the case was pushed forward again. In July 2019, R. Kelly was finally arrested.
Weeks-long process expected
According to trial observers, Kelly is said to have followed the events calmly and often without expression in court. In any case, he has repeatedly rejected the allegations against him in the past few decades and described them as targeted character assassination. His defense tries to brand the alleged victims as unreliable – they are disappointed fans who have developed into stalkers. The Wednesday and Thursday witness should also give the impression of a brazen liar. She told the musician her age was 19 – and only later admitted to being a minor, the “New York Daily News” argues for the defense.
The process could take weeks and there is talk of up to 3,500 pieces of evidence. If convicted on all points, the singer faces a prison sentence of ten years to life, according to the public prosecutor’s office. In the New York borough of Brooklyn, however, there is only the first federal lawsuit against him. Even if acquitted, Kelly will face a similar trial in Illinois. dpa