‘Predator’ R. Kelly used his fame to lure ‘victims’ then ‘dominated’ them, trial hears

‘Predator’ R&B singer R. Kelly used his fame to lure women and children to his shows then ‘dominated and controlled’ them and filmed himself abusing them, prosecutors alleged on day one of his long-awaited trial.

Kelly’s trial began in Brooklyn’s Federal District Court Wednesday with prosecutors branding him a ‘predator’ in their opening statement while the defense told jurors they will hear a ‘mess of lies’ about the singer during the trial. 

This came after the judge threw out the defense’s final last-ditch attempt to dismiss the case but allowed them to bring a printer into the courtroom to help them manage the 3,500 pieces of evidence expected to be presented at the trial. 

Kelly is standing trial accused of being the ringleader of an underage sex ring where women allegedly had to call him ‘Daddy’ and had to ask his permission to use the bathroom.

He is charged with racketeering, sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, bribery, sex trafficking and forced labor between 1994 and 2018.   

Five women are cited as Jane Does in the nine-count indictment for mistreatment – three of them underage at the time of the alleged crimes, while at least one accuser said Kelly had unprotected sex with her without revealing he had herpes. 

He is also accused of bribing an Illinois official in 1994 to obtain fake ID for the singer Aaliyah so they could marry when she was just 15.

Kelly denies all the charges but faces up to life in prison if convicted on all counts. 

'Predator' R Kelly sexually abused an underage boy he met in McDonalds after promising to help his career, prosecutors alleged in documents as the R&B singer's sex abuse trial got under way. Kelly in an artist's sketch in curt Wednesday

'Predator' R Kelly sexually abused an underage boy he met in McDonalds after promising to help his career, prosecutors alleged in documents as the R&B singer's sex abuse trial got under way. Kelly in an artist's sketch in curt Wednesday

‘Predator’ R Kelly sexually abused an underage boy he met in McDonalds after promising to help his career, prosecutors alleged in documents as the R&B singer’s sex abuse trial got under way. Kelly in an artist’s sketch in curt Wednesday 

R. Kelly pictured performing in 2013 at the BET Awards. The star's long-awaited sex abuse trial began in Brooklyn Wednesday

R. Kelly pictured performing in 2013 at the BET Awards. The star's long-awaited sex abuse trial began in Brooklyn Wednesday

R. Kelly pictured performing in 2013 at the BET Awards. The star’s long-awaited sex abuse trial began in Brooklyn Wednesday 

As the trial got underway Wednesday:

  • The judge denied the defense’s final bid to dismiss the case, where they had argued herpes is not life-threatening so Kelly shouldn’t be charged with passing the STD to a minor  
  • Joycelyn Savage’s mother arrived at the courthouse to hear the opening statements, telling reporters she was ‘grateful’ Kelly was finally facing trial after ‘almost two decades’
  • Prosecutors claimed in documents ahead of the trial that R. Kelly sexually abused an underage boy he met in McDonalds after promising to help his music career 

The 54-year-old sat in the courtroom in a gray suit, purple tie, and glasses with his head down at times as the prosecution described an alleged pattern of violent abuse. 

In opening statements, Assistant US Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez told the jury the trial is not about celebrity parties but is ‘about a predator’ who used his fame to entice girls, boys and young women before dominating and controlling them physically, sexually and psychologically.

‘This case is not about a celebrity who likes to party a lot,’ she said. 

‘This case is about a predator.’ 

Melendez explained the evidence that would be presented at the federal trial and said Kelly lured in children and women by inviting them to join him after shows with backstage passes.

Once he had them alone, Melendez said, Kelly ‘dominated and controlled them physically, sexually and psychologically.’

The singer also often recorded his sex acts with minors as he controlled a racketeering enterprise of individuals who were loyal and devoted to him, eager to ‘fulfill each and everyone one of the defendant´s wishes and demands,’ she said.

Family members of Jocelyn Savage (left) speak to reporters outside Brooklyn Federal court before the start of opening statements

Family members of Jocelyn Savage (left) speak to reporters outside Brooklyn Federal court before the start of opening statements

Family members of Jocelyn Savage (left) speak to reporters outside Brooklyn Federal court before the start of opening statements

Lawyers for R. Kelly are seen arriving for the opening day of the star's sex abuse trial. He is charged with racketeering, sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, bribery, sex trafficking and forced labor between 1994 and 2018

Lawyers for R. Kelly are seen arriving for the opening day of the star's sex abuse trial. He is charged with racketeering, sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, bribery, sex trafficking and forced labor between 1994 and 2018

Lawyers for R. Kelly are seen arriving for the opening day of the star’s sex abuse trial. He is charged with racketeering, sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, bribery, sex trafficking and forced labor between 1994 and 2018

A man carries a suit for R. Kelly to wear at his trial after he had complained to the judge earlier this month that he had put on so much weight in prison that he had nothing to wear at trial

A man carries a suit for R. Kelly to wear at his trial after he had complained to the judge earlier this month that he had put on so much weight in prison that he had nothing to wear at trial

A man carries a suit for R. Kelly to wear at his trial after he had complained to the judge earlier this month that he had put on so much weight in prison that he had nothing to wear at trial

‘What his success and popularity brought him was access, access to girls, boys and young women,’ she said. 

Kelly’s attorney Nicole Blank Becker instead painted Kelly as the victim as the defense delivered the opening statement after Melendez completed hers. 

Becker claimed Kelly’s alleged victims were ‘fans’ who ‘came to’ the star willingly because they enjoyed the ‘notoriety of being able to tell their friends that they were with a superstar.’

‘He didn’t recruit them. They were fans. They came to Mr. Kelly,’ she said.

‘They knew exactly what they were getting into. It was no secret Mr. Kelly had multiple girlfriends. He was quite transparent.’

It would be a stretch to believe he orchestrated an elaborate criminal enterprise, like a mob boss, the lawyer said.

Becker also accused the alleged victims of lying, warning jurors they’ll have to sort through ‘a mess of lies’ from women with an agenda.

‘Don’t assume everybody’s telling the truth,’ she said.  

The mother of one of Kelly’s alleged victims told reporters outside the courthouse that she was ‘grateful’ that he was finally facing trial after ‘almost two decades.’ 

‘Now finally, after almost two decades, people are finally speaking up and I’m humbly grateful for that,’ said Jonjelyn Savage, mother of Joycelyn Savage.

R. Kelly in a courtroom sketch during the start of his trial where his defense told jurors they would have to wade through a 'mess of lies' about the star

R. Kelly in a courtroom sketch during the start of his trial where his defense told jurors they would have to wade through a 'mess of lies' about the star

R. Kelly in a courtroom sketch during the start of his trial where his defense told jurors they would have to wade through a ‘mess of lies’ about the star

Assistant US Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez points at R. Kelly in court Wednesday as she describes a pattern of violent abuse in opening statements

Assistant US Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez points at R. Kelly in court Wednesday as she describes a pattern of violent abuse in opening statements

Assistant US Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez points at R. Kelly in court Wednesday as she describes a pattern of violent abuse in opening statements 

She added that she hoped that hearing the opening statements about her daughter’s alleged abuser would help bring ‘some relief for us and some type of closure.’

Jocelyn was a live-in girlfriend of Kelly when he was arrested in 2019. 

She previously denied being a victim of the singer and defended him in an interview with Gayle King. 

However, Savage’s family have accused Kelly and his team of holding her against her will and have pleaded for them to release her.  

Gloria Allred, who is representing some of the accusers, was also seen arriving at the courthouse Wednesday, while some fans of the disgraced R&B star also gathered in a show of support. 

A man was seen carrying a suit for Kelly into the courthouse after he had complained to the judge earlier this month that he had put on so much weight in prison that he had nothing to wear at trial. 

Prosecutors in Brooklyn have lined up multiple female accusers – mostly referred to in court as ‘Jane Does’ – and cooperating former associates who have never spoken publicly before about their experiences with Kelly.

They’re expected to offer testimony about how Kelly’s managers, bodyguards and other employees helped him recruit women and girls – and sometimes boys – for sexual exploitation. 

They say the group selected victims at concerts and other venues and arranged for them to travel to see Kelly in the New York City area and elsewhere, in violation of the Mann Act, the 1910 law that made it illegal to ‘transport any woman or girl’ across state lines ‘for any immoral purpose.’

When the women and girls arrived at their lodgings, a member of Kelly’s entourage would set down rules about not speaking to each other, how they should dress and how they needed permission from Kelly before eating or going to the bathroom, prosecutors say. 

Also, they were allegedly required to call him ‘Daddy.’

Defense lawyers have countered by saying Kelly’s alleged victims were groupies who turned up at his shows and made it known they ‘were dying to be with him.’ 

The women only started accusing him of abuse years later when public sentiment shifted against him, they said.  

The high-profile trial has been years in the making as the star has faced accusations of sex abuse for years.

He has been behind bars for almost two years awaiting trial. 

R. Kelly pictured in September 2019 in court in Chicago. Prosecutors said Wednesday the singer is a 'predator'

R. Kelly pictured in September 2019 in court in Chicago. Prosecutors said Wednesday the singer is a 'predator'

R. Kelly pictured in September 2019 in court in Chicago. Prosecutors said Wednesday the singer is a ‘predator’

More than a decade has passed since Kelly was acquitted in a 2008 child pornography case in Chicago. 

It was a reprieve that allowed his music career to continue until the #MeToo era caught up with him, emboldening alleged victims to come forward.

The women’s stories got wide exposure with the Lifetime documentary ‘Surviving R. Kelly.’ 

The series explored how an entourage of supporters protected Kelly and silenced his victims for decades, foreshadowing a federal racketeering conspiracy case that landed Kelly in jail in 2019.

Kelly is perhaps best known for his smash hit ‘I Believe I Can Fly,’ a 1996 song that became an inspirational anthem played at school graduations, weddings, advertisements and elsewhere. 

An anonymous jury made up of seven men and five women have been sworn in to hear the case. 

The trial, coming after several delays due mostly to the pandemic, will unfold under coronavirus precautions restricting the press and the public to overflow courtrooms with video feeds. If convicted, he could face life in prison. 

The New York case is only part of the legal peril facing the singer. He also has pleaded not guilty to sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota.

Judge throws out defense’s final bid to dismiss the case after they argued herpes is not life-threatening so he shouldn’t be charged with passing it to a minor 

Before the opening arguments got underway Wednesday, the judge denied the defense’s final bid to dismiss the case, where they had argued herpes is not life-threatening so Kelly shouldn’t be charged with passing it to a minor.

Kelly allegedly had unprotected sex with one of his alleged victims when she was underage and when he knew he had herpes but did not tell her. 

The accuser contracted the sexually transmitted disease from him in 2015, prosecutors claim. 

Kelly’s legal team filed a memo Monday night replying to the federal government’s opposition to their request that the charges be dropped.

In the memo, they specifically argued the herpes exposure charge should be dropped because herpes is a virus and not ‘an acute, bacterial venereal disease such as syphilis or gonorrhea.’

They argued that if case law indicates that HIV transmission is no longer criminally liable because it ‘no longer poses a grave risk of death’, then herpes should also not be criminally liable. 

The defense also said the New York State Department of Health ‘is not aware of any instance of an individual being charged with a misdemeanor’ for spreading herpes.   

Supporters of the R&B star also gathered outside the courtroom Wednesday for day one of the trial

Supporters of the R&B star also gathered outside the courtroom Wednesday for day one of the trial

Supporters of the R&B star also gathered outside the courtroom Wednesday for day one of the trial

Gloria Allred arrives at the trial of R Kelly at Brooklyn's federal court in New York Tuesday

Gloria Allred arrives at the trial of R Kelly at Brooklyn's federal court in New York Tuesday

Gloria Allred arrives at the trial of R Kelly at Brooklyn’s federal court in New York Tuesday

R. Kelly ‘sexually abused an underage boy he met in McDonalds after promising to help his music career’, prosecutors reveal in documents  

R. Kelly sexually abused an underage boy he met in McDonalds after promising to help his career, prosecutors alleged in documents released ahead of his trial.  

Prosecutors claim the singer, now 54, met a 17-year-old boy in a Chicago fast food joint in December 2006 and invited him to a party. 

When the teen – identified only as John Doe #1 – brought his parents to the party, Kelly told him to come alone next time and invited him to his music studio on the promise of helping him with his music career, prosecutors allege.

The singer allegedly asked the boy ‘what he was willing to do to succeed in the music business’, propositioned him and sexually abused him while he was under the age of consent.   

The boy also introduced Kelly to a male friend who was also 16 or 17 at the time, prosecutors allege. 

Kelly allegedly went on to have a sexual relationship with this second boy years later.  








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