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18th Aug 2021

R Kelly due back in court for decades-long allegations of sexual abuse of women and minors

Laura Grainger

The general public was made aware of the allegations through social media and a Lifetime documentary.

Content warning: This article mentions details of child sexual abuse.

R Kelly will be back in a criminal court today for opening statements in a long-awaited federal trial over sex abuse allegations.

The R&B singer has for years been the subject of accusations of using fame and power to sexually abuse women and minors.

Though he was acquitted of child pornography charges in a 2008 case in Chicago, the #MeToo movement in 2017 saw a further lifting of the lid on allegations.

The New York trial will see Kelly face charges that include sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping and sex trafficking of women and girls. He has pleaded not guilty on all counts.

In Illinois, he also faces federal child pornography and obstruction charges as well state charges of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

54-year-old Kelly has spent the last two years awaiting trial in federal facilities in Illinois and New York after his 2019 arrest.

The general public was made aware of the allegations, long considered an industry open secret, through a social media movement and a Lifetime documentary entitled Surviving R Kelly. The documentary explored years of grooming, abuse, and exploitation Kelly is accused of subjecting countless victims to while allegedly aided by an entourage of supporters.

Prosecutors in Brooklyn have lined up multiple accusers and former associates who have not, prior to this trial, spoken publicly about their time with Kelly.

Witnesses are expected to testify about how Kelly’s managers, bodyguards and other staff members allegedly helped him recruit women, girls and occasionally boys to sexually exploit.

The legal proceedings are expected to last between six and eight weeks.

If you have been affected by any of the details of this article, you can contact Women’s Aid’s 24 hour helpline on 1800 341 900 and the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre on  1800 77 8888.