R Kelly trial hears singer is a ‘predator’ who lured girls, boys and young women with his fame – ABC News

R Kellyis a "predator" who demanded absolute fealty from the many women and underage girls he dominated across decades of abuse, prosecutors have saidat the start of the singer's trial.

The 54-year-oldhas strongly denied wrongdoing, but his trial in Brooklyn is just the start of lengthy criminal proceedings against him.

Here's what you need to know.

R Kelly,whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, is a three-time Grammy winner best known for the hit songs I Believe I Can Fly, Bump N' Grind, Trapped in the Closet andIgnition (Remix).

At his peak in the 90s and early 2000s, RKelly was an R&B superstar,credited with redefiningthe genre.

He was acquitted of child pornography charges at a 2008 trial in Chicago.

R Kelly, now aged 54, last released a studio album in 2016. His career stalled after the release of the2019 documentary Surviving RKelly.

He has been in custody awaiting trial since July 2019, during which time he's gone broke.

He is currently being held at the Metropolitan Detention Centerin Brooklyn the same prison whereGhislaine Maxwell is awaiting trial on chargesthat she procured young victims for millionaire sexual abuser Jeffrey Epstein.

AFP: Frederic J Brown

R Kelly is accused of luring girls, boys and young women with his fame and dominatingthem physically, sexually and psychologically.

In her opening statement, federal prosecutorMaria Cruz Melendez told the juryhe used "lies, manipulation, threats and physical abuse" to control his victims, and often filmed their sexual encounters.

The court heard R Kelly allegedly usedan entourage of managers, bodyguards and others to recruit victims, and threatened to blackmail them if they fled.

"This case is about a predator," Ms Melendez said. "This case is not about a celebrity who likes to party a lot."

R Kelly's lawyer Nicole Blank Becker rejected prosecutors' claims, saying the accusers' relationships with him were consensual.

The defence will argue the singer's accusers were unhappy former fans who wanted to get back at him because their relationships didn't work out.

"They knew exactly what they were getting into," Ms Becker said.

R Kellyhas pleaded not guilty to a nine-count indictment. Eight counts allege violations of the federal Mann Act, which makes it a crime to transport people across state lines for prostitution.

Rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry is among other well-known people convicted under that law. Actor and filmmaker Charlie Chaplin was acquitted of the charge.

Instagram:Aaliyah

Aaliyah, full name Aaliyah Dana Haughton, was a singer and actress who starred in the Jet Li movieRomeo Must Die and vampire flick Queen of the Damned.

She also sang the R&B hits Try Again and At Your Best, as well asJourney to the Past in the soundtrack of the 1997 animation Anastasia.

Aaliyahis listed as Jane Doe No1 on R Kelly's indictment.

She was only 15 years old when she married R Kelly, then 27, in 1994.

That same year she released her first album, Age Ain't Nothing but a Number, which was produced by R Kelly.

The marriage was annulled in 1995. Aaliyahdied in a plane crash in 2001.

The court heardprosecutors will try to show RKelly bribed an Illinois official to obtain a fake ID for Aaliyah so they could marry. Theirmarriage licence showed her age as 18.

According to prosecutors, R Kelly believed he had impregnated Aaliyah, and hoped a marriage would keep her from having to testify against him.

R Kelly's other accusers includeSonja, who has been identified only by her first name.

Shealleges she was sexually abused nearly two decades ago at his studio in Chicago.

Then aged 22, she wanted to interview him for a radio station where she was working as an intern.

The prosecutor said Sonja was locked in a room at the studio for three days, and once lost consciousness after being fed.

Upon awakening, Sonja felt wetness between her legs, saw R Kelly fastening his pants, and realised she had been sexually assaulted, the court heard.

On the first day of the trial,Jerhonda Pace, known as Jane Doe No4 in the indictment, testified RKelly knew she was 16 when they had intercourse because she had shown him identification, but that he told her to pretend she was 19.

"He told me he was going to train me to please him sexually," Ms Pace, now aged 28, said.

AP: Elizabeth Williams

She saidshe had once been a fan of R Kelly and thatshe had his name tattooed on her left breastat his suggestion.

But shesaid their relationship became difficult, with R Kelly demanding she call him "Daddy" and get his permission to go to the bathroom. She said the relationshipended after he choked her until she passed out.

Ms Pace also testified that R Kelly gave her herpes, while prosecutors said DNA evidence from a shirt she wore matched his.

Asked if she still had the tattoo, she said: "It's covered up with a black heart."

Other female accusers and at least one male accuser are also expected to testify for the government, some using only their first names.

R Kelly's trial was delayed several times by the COVID pandemic. It is expected to last about one month.

He faces decades in prison if convicted.

Even if he is acquitted, he still faces sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota, where he has also pleaded not guilty.

AP/Reuters

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R Kelly trial hears singer is a 'predator' who lured girls, boys and young women with his fame - ABC News

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