After Years of Suspicion, Reckoning for High-Flying R. Kelly | Illinois News

By TOM HAYS, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Most individuals know him for “I Believe I Can Fly,” the 1996 sing-along hit that turned an inspirational anthem performed at college graduations, weddings and in commercials. Or presumably for a stinging parody by comic Dave Chappelle.

But beginning this week, what prosecutors say was a not-so-secret darkish facet of R&B famous person R. Kelly shall be introduced in lurid element for a jury in New York City.

The federal trial comes after years of frustration amongst ladies who say they have been sexually abused by the 54-year outdated singer, who vehemently denies any wrongdoing.

If the trial brings some satisfaction to ladies who say they have been victims of Kelly’s alleged depravity “there’s also a feeling of ‘too little too late,’” said Jim DeRogatis, a music writer and college professor who authored a book on Kelly called “Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly.”

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“Thousands of people,” he mentioned, “knew about his habits for a long time.”

The query is “why didn’t anyone notice?” writer Mikki Kendall said in the documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly.” “The answer is that we all noticed. No one cared because we were Black girls.”

Opening statements are slated for Wednesday earlier than a jury made up of seven males and 5 ladies. The trial, coming after a number of delays due largely to the pandemic, will unfold underneath coronavirus precautions limiting the press and the general public to overflow courtrooms with video feeds.

Even earlier than Kelly beat a narrowly constructed little one pornography case in Chicago in 2008 with one alleged sufferer and a house video {that a} jury discovered unpersuasive, his alleged perversions have been half of popular culture. In 2003, the “Chappelle’s Show” aired a mock music video which starred Chappelle as R. Kelly performing a music about an allegation that he urinated on an underage lady.

But after the acquittal, Kelly’s life went on as earlier than. He continued touring and recording, together with a 2013 duet with Lady Gaga titled “Do What U Want.”

With the daybreak of the #MeToo period, Kelly got here underneath renewed media scrutiny fueled by the broadly watched “Surviving R. Kelly.” The work partially delves into how a cadre of supporters protected Kelly and silenced his victims for a long time, foreshadowing a federal racketeering conspiracy case that landed in Kelly in jail in 2019. He was initially behind bars in Chicago earlier than being transferred to New York City in June.

The New York case is simply half of the authorized peril going through the singer, born Robert Sylvester Kelly. He additionally has pleaded not responsible to sex-related fees in Illinois and Minnesota.

Kelly was already feeling a cultural-shift backlash in 2018, when The Women of Color department of Time’s Up publicly supported the #MuteRKelly motion, a social media marketing campaign meant to show up the warmth for his file label to drop him. His camp responded with assertion describing his therapy as a “lynching” of a Black man who revered ladies.

“Soon it will become clear Mr. Kelly is the target of a greedy, conscious and malicious conspiracy to demean him, his family and the women with whom he spends his time,” the assertion mentioned .

It was a response that would grow to be the crux of the protection on the trial of the Grammy-winning, multiplatinum-selling singer. Some of his legal professionals have mentioned Kelly’s alleged victims have been “groupies” who solely began accusing him of abuse years later as a result of of the #MeToo motion.

Prosecutors paint a distinct image, detailing how an enterprise of managers, bodyguards and different workers helped Kelly recruit and transport ladies and ladies for intercourse. The journey violated the Mann Act, the 1910 regulation that made it unlawful to “transport any woman or girl” throughout state strains “for any immoral purpose” — the identical regulation that despatched rock legend Chuck Berry to jail in 1959.

Prosecutors in Brooklyn have lined up a number of feminine accusers — largely recognized in court docket papers as “Jane Does” — and cooperating former associates who’ve by no means spoken publicly earlier than about their experiences with Kelly.

When the ladies and ladies arrived on the lodging, a member of Kelly’s entourage would offer them with directions prohibiting them from interacting with one another, prosecutors mentioned in court docket papers. At the concert events, they have been positioned in order that Kelly might see them from stage.

Kelly had guidelines barring companions leaving their room to eat to go to the lavatory with out receiving his permission and from taking a look at different males. He advised them how they need to gown, and required them to name him “Daddy.”

The breadth of the latest investigation also brings a new twist that sets it apart from other signature #MeToo era cases like those of Jeffrey Epstein and Harvey Weinstein: Prosecutors say there will be new evidence about at least two underage “John Doe” victims.

The documents say Kelly also groomed two teenage boys, including a 17-year-old he met at a local McDonalds in late 2016.

“Thereafter, Kelly invited John Doe #1 into his studio under the guise of helping and mentoring John Doe #1 with his musical aspirations,” the papers say. “Kelly also asked John Doe #1 what he was willing to do to succeed in the music business and clarified that he wanted John Doe #1 to engage in sexual contact with Kelly.”

Kelly developed a sexual relationship with another boy he met as a teen, the papers say. He later paid for the victim to have sex with some of his girlfriends, sometimes filming the encounters, they say.

“I believe some of what’s going to come out will shock people,” DeRogatis said.

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