R. Kelly trial on federal child pornography, obstruction charges begins
R&B star R. Kelly waves to supporters as he leaves Cook County criminal court after being acquitted on all counts in his child-pornography trial in Chicago in June 2008. File Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 15 (UPI) — R. Kelly, the R&B singer convicted last year for racketeering and sex trafficking, is facing another trial on federal child pornography and obstruction charges in his hometown of Chicago.

Jury selection for the trial was scheduled to begin Monday morning at the Dirksen United States Courthouse in Chicago, according to guidelines previously set by the court. The trial will not be televised and a sketch artist has been assigned.

Kelly, whose legal name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, has been accused of coercing five children into sex acts and creating child pornography between September 1998 and September 1999, court records obtained by UPI show.

The minors were between the ages of 12 and 17 when they met the “Pregnant” crooner, according to court documents. All five of the alleged victims are expected to testify at the trial.

Kelly, 55, previously faced his first trial in Chicago in 2008 in which he was acquitted on 14 counts of producing child pornography by a jury of nine men and three women. A video at the heart of that trial has been entered into evidence in the new trial.

He will now face additional charges for allegedly conspiring to fix that trial with Derrel McDavid, a former employee who is a co-defendant in the latest trial, court records show. A third man, Milton Brown, has also been charged for having allegedly received missing recordings of the child sex abuse.

Kelly and his two co-defendants have all pleaded not guilty to their charges.

The first allegations of sexual abuse were revealed in a 1996 lawsuit filed by Tiffany Hawkins, a Chicago woman who said she had sex with Kelly in 1991 when she was 15. The lawsuit was later settled for $250,000.

Kelly previously married the singer Aaliyah in August 1994 when he was 27 and she was just 15 years old, though never faced criminal charges despite her being a minor at the time.

“Even though I don’t believe any of these charges are warranted, I’m grateful that I will have a chance to establish the truth about me in a court of law,” Kelly said in a statement issued in Los Angeles after his initial arrest in 2002 before his 2008 acquittal.

“I have complete faith in our system of justice, and I am confident that when all the facts come out, people will see that I’m no criminal.”

In January 2019, the six-part documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly” was released by Lifetime and brought renewed concern over the singer’s checkered history after several women claimed on camera that they had survived sexual abuse at Kelly’s hands.

Kelly was charged in Chicago in February 2019 after the release of the hit documentary and again by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn later that year. He was convicted on all nine counts in the Brooklyn case last September, including racketeering, the sexual exploitation of children, forced labor and transporting girls across state lines to engage in illegal sexual activity.

“Today’s guilty verdict forever brands R. Kelly as a predator, who used his fame and fortune to prey on the young, the vulnerable, and the voiceless for his own sexual gratification,” Acting U.S. Attorney Kasulis said in a statement at the time.

“A predator who used his inner circle to ensnare underage teenage girls, and young women and men, for decades, in a sordid web of sex abuse, exploitation and degradation.”

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