R. Kelly Federal Trial Jury Selection Complete
Jury selection has been completed for R. Kelly’s federal sex trafficking trial in Brooklyn, N.Y., and testimony is now set to get underway.
According to USA Today, after three days of jury selection, the panel will be made up of seven men and five women, however, the racial makeup is unknown. The jurors are reportedly unfamiliar with the accusations against the embattled R&B artist.
The panel was sworn in on Wednesday, Aug. 11 after dozens of people had been questioned by prosecution and defense attorneys. Kelly, 54, has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, alleging that he led a “criminal enterprise” to contract employees — from managers to bodyguards — to find young women and girls for sex and pornography, The Chicago Sun Times reports.
Other charges include racketeering, bribery, coercion and enticement. The charges involve six different women and girls but they remain unidentified in court filings. His lawyers maintain the girls were groupies who would show up at his shows and were “dying to be with him.”
U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly reportedly sought to be sure that the potential jurors would be impartial in spite of the heavy negative publicity surrounding Kelly since he was arrested in 2019. Some said they knew of Kelly because of his Grammy-winning hit “I Believe I Can Fly,” while others said they knew little or nothing about the case.
During the selection process, the singer, was seen only on a video feed at the defense table. The judge has banned the public and all media from the courtroom due to the coronavirus. The trial can be seen via closed circuit camera in two overflow rooms at the courthouse.
Kelly is facing 20 years on federal charges alone. State charges he faces in Illinois could get him more time behind bars. Opening statements are scheduled to begin on Monday, Aug. 18.