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The R. Kelly trial has commenced, and victims are not holding back

After an extended delay, the trial against R. Kelly has kicked off in Brooklyn, New York.

The trial is proving to hit hard, with brutal opening statements and a carefully selected jury.

Three-time Grammy award winner, R. Kelly, has pleaded not guilty to a 9-count indictment. The charges include racketeering, sexual abuse, bribery, and extortion, with some dating more than two decades back.

Image: Sky News

Although the 54-year-old remains adamantly innocent, a jury consisting of seven men and five women will be the ultimate hurdle in Kelly’s plea for freedom.

The next month of court proceedings could result in Kelly spending the next several decades in prison.

However, if acquitted, returning to his lavish Hollywood lifestyle is not exactly on the cards. There are still similar charges in Illinois and Minnesota that are set to be addressed.

In her opening statement, assistant US Attorney Maria Melendez referred to the convicted as a “predator” and “a man who used lies, manipulation, threats and physical abuse to dominate his victims and to avoid accountability”.

The “If I Could Turn Back The Hands of Time” singer showed no literal emulation of these lyrics.

At times, his head held down, seemingly dodging claims he used fame, bodyguards, lawyers, drivers, and accountants to cover up his heinous crimes.

Control over his victims seemed to be a reoccurring theme in statements presented.

With accusations against Kelly including the concept of “absolute commitment”. This means victims were required to obey strict rules such as eating and toileting only with permission, not looking at other men and calling him “daddy”.

But what exactly is he accused of?

The singer has been slammed with multiple federal and state charges, including sexual assault, abuse of a minor, racketeering, making indecent imaged of minors and obstruction of justice.

These add up to the 9 count indictment, with three of the five “Jane Doe” victims claiming to be underage at the time of their abuse.

The “predatory pursuit” of teenage girls has been defended by Kelly’s lawyer, Nicole Blank Becker, as the response from aggressive groupies who later became “spiteful”.

This is language far from consistent with the progression of sexual misconduct in the music industry – something that many artists have spoken openly about, including Aussies. 

Serious claims made by these so-called “fans” include unprotected sex without disclosing a sexually transmitted disease and obtaining a fake marriage licence to prevent the late RNB singer, Aaliyah, from testifying against him.

Aaliyah was 15, and allegedly pregnant with Kelly’s child at the time.

Kelly has been held in custody since March 2019, following denied bail.