R Kelly appeared in a New York federal court yesterday (Wednesday 18th August) accused of recording the sexual abuse of children.
The court heard that the R&B singer "controlled them sexually and physically", with prosecutors dubbing R Kelly a "predator".
He allegedly insisted on his victims referring to him as 'Daddy', with prosecutors further alleging he "dominated and controlled them physically, sexually and psychologically."
The 54-year-old is finally facing trial after decades of accusations of sexual abuse from various women – some of whom were very young.
Among the charges he faces are racketeering based on sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping, forced labour, and violating the Mann Act – which barred the transport of people across state lines for sex.
The court heard that the I Believe I Can Fly singer would invite young women and girls to join him after various shows, as backstage passes were distributed to them.
They would allegedly then be taken to meet Kelly by a member of his team before being informed of rules they needed to follow – which included not speaking to each other, what to wear, and how they had to seek permission from the singer before eating or using the bathroom.
They were also required to call him ‘Daddy’, it was alleged.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez told the jury that Kelly would often record sex acts with minors, and controlled a racketeering enterprise of his team.
She said his team were so loyal they were keen to "fulfil each and everyone one of the defendant's wishes and demands."
"What his success and popularity brought him was access, access to girls, boys and young women," she added.
Prosecutors added: "Kelly issued rules that many of his sexual partners were required to follow, including that the women and girls were to call him 'Daddy'; they were not permitted to leave their rooms to eat or visit the bathroom without receiving his permission; they were required to wear baggy clothing when not accompanying Kelly to an event; and they were directed to keep their heads down and not look at others.
"Kelly also isolated the women and girls from their friends and family, and made them dependent on him for their financial well-being."
Kelly has pleaded not guilty to all charges, along with strongly denying wrongdoing. His own legal team insists that the women accusing him are merely disgruntled groupies.
The trial, which is expected to last between six and eight weeks, comes more than a decade after the singer was acquitted in a 2008 child pornography case in Chicago.
Now, the Brooklyn charges concern accusations of abuse against at least six females – and, according to prosecutors, include at least one then-minor who contracted herpes from the three-time Grammy award winner after he knowingly exposed her to the sexually transmitted disease.
Various female accusers and cooperating former associates of Kelly are to be called as witnesses.
If found guilty, Kelly faces life in prison.
But the New York case is only one the singer is facing – he has also pleaded not guilty to sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota.
He faced almost 36 federal charges across the United States for the alleged abuse of women – some who claim they were abused as recently as 2018.
Kelly has been in jail since 2019.
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