R. Kelly’s federal trial in Chicago that begins Monday is in many ways a repeat of his 2008 state child pornography trial, in which jurors acquitted the singer of charges that he produced a video of himself. when I was around 30 years old having sex with a girl no older than 14 years old.
There is one big difference: This time, prosecutors say, she will testify.
Kelly goes to a Chicago federal court already sentenced by a New York federal judge to 30 years in prison for a 2021 conviction on charges that he used his fame to sexually abuse other young fans.
Among the most serious charges the Grammy winner faces in his federal trial is conspiracy to obstruct justice by rigging the 2008 trial, including paying and threatening the girl to ensure she did not testify.
The testimony of the woman, now in her 30s and mentioned in the documents only as “Minor 1”, will be critical. The charges against Kelly also include four counts of enticing minors for sex, one for each of the other four accusers. All are also scheduled to testify.
Even one or two convictions in Chicago could add decades to Kelly’s New York sentence, which he is appealing. With the New York sentence alone, Kelly will be around 80 years old before qualifying for early release.
Prosecutors at the federal trial plan to play the same VHS tape that was “Exhibit No…. at the 2008 trial. While it was the only video in evidence 14 years ago, at least three other videos will be entered into evidence at the 2008 trial. federal trial.
Prosecutors say Kelly shot the Minor 1 video in a log cabin-themed room in her Chicago North Side home between 1998 and 2000 when she was just 13 years old. In it, the girl is heard calling the man “daddy”. Federal prosecutors say she and Kelly had sex hundreds of times over the years at their homes, recording studios and tour buses.
Before the 2008 trial, Kelly carried a duffel bag full of sex tapes everywhere for years, but some tapes later disappeared, according to court documents. In the 2000s, bootleg copies of some videos appeared on street corners across the US.
Kelly, who rose from poverty on Chicago’s South Side to become a star singer, songwriter and producer, knew that a conviction in 2008 would effectively end his life as he knew it.
On June 13, 2008, Kelly squeezed her eyes shut and bowed her head as the jury returned from deliberations. When a court official read the jury’s decision and it was clear that Kelly would be acquitted of all charges, tears rolled down her cheeks and she said over and over, “Thank you, Jesus.”
Two of Kelly’s associates, Derrel McDavid and Milton Brown, are co-defendants in Chicago. McDavid is accused of helping Kelly fix the 2008 trial, while Brown is accused of receiving child pornography. Like Kelly, they have also denied any wrongdoing.
The double jeopardy rules prohibit the prosecution of someone for the same crimes they were previously acquitted of. But that shouldn’t apply to the federal trial in Chicago because prosecutors allege different crimes related to Minor 1, including obstruction of justice for rigging the 2008 trial.
Minor 1 met Kelly in the late 1990s when he was in high school. She had gone to Kelly’s recording studio in Chicago with her aunt, a professional singer who worked on Kelly’s music. Shortly after that meeting, Minor 1 told his parents that Kelly would be her godfather.
In the early 2000s, the aunt showed the parents a copy of a video that she said showed her daughter having sex with Kelly. When they confronted Kelly, he told them, “You are either with me or against me,” a government document says.
The parents took it as a threat.
“The mother of minor 1 did not want to confront Kelly’s power, money and influence by not following through on what she said,” the filing adds.
Kelly told the parents and Child 1 that they had to leave Chicago and paid for their trip to the Bahamas and Cancun, Mexico. When they returned, prosecutors say Kelly tried to isolate Child 1 and moved her to different hotels.
When called before a state grand jury investigating the video, Minor 1, her father and mother denied that she was in it. Prosecutors say an attorney for Kelly sat through her testimony and told Kelly what they said.
Prosecutors with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office chose to pursue the charges and take the case to trial in 2008 even though they knew there was a major hurdle: his inability to call the girl in the video to testify. .
Any confidence Kelly might have had of surmounting similar charges a second time was likely dashed when she learned that Minor 1 was now cooperating with the government. With more resources, federal prosecutors also boast conviction rates of more than 90 percent compared to about 65 percent for their state counterparts.
In 2008, her attorneys argued that the man on the VHS video who appeared to be Kelly was not Kelly. They showed the jury that Kelly has a large mole on his back, then played excerpts from the video in which no mole was visible on the man.
One of Kelly’s attorneys, Sam Adam Jr., told the jury during closings that no mole on the man’s back meant one thing: “It’s not him. And if it’s not him, they can’t convict.”
Some jurors from 2008 told reporters after the trial that they were not convinced the woman in the video was who state prosecutors said she was.
That shouldn’t be a problem in the federal trial in Chicago. Prosecutors say both the girl and her parents will testify.
It’s unclear what defense Kelly’s legal team will present this time.
The defense is likely to say that Kelly’s accusers are misrepresenting the facts. Kelly was more direct in a 2019 interview with “CBS This Morning”‘s Gayle King, saying of women, “They all lie.”