R. Kelly Trial Begins With Opening Statements From Lawyers

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The federal trial of R. Kelly begins Wednesday (August 18) in Brooklyn with opening statements from his defense attorneys and federal prosecutors. The R&B singer is facing federal racketeering charges and is accused of heading up a criminal enterprise that recruited women and girls for sex. 

Last week, seven men and five women were seated as the jury to hear the case against the singer. Prosecutors are expected to lay out a case that shows Kelly operated a criminal enterprise that engaged in sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping, forced labor, as well as coercing and transporting women and underaged girls to participate in illegal sexual activity. 

The 54-year-old was indicted by a federal grand jury in July 2019 and pleaded not guilty to all of the criminal charges and still has pending federal and state prosecutions in Illinois and Minnesota. He pleaded not guilty in those cases, too. 

If convicted in New York, Kelly could face 10 years to life in prison, The Wall Street Journal reported.

One of Kelly’s defense lawyers, Thomas Farinella, told The Journal the singer’s side of the story will come out during the trial. 

“The public has only heard one side of the story in this case and that is about to change in the coming weeks,” Farinella said. 

Earlier this month, Farinella admitted that Kelly had sexual contact with the late R&B star Aaliyah, before walking back his comments. The admission came during a pretrial hearing before the jury was seated. 

This isn’t the first time sexual misconduct allegations have been brought against Kelly. The singer was acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008. 

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