The federal trial for disgraced R&B singer R. Kelly finally began, with the prosecution making opening statements and witness testimony showing just how heavy the case is against him.
On Wednesday morning (August 18) in a Brooklyn courthouse, the prosecution made their opening remarks that detailed decades of wanton and intricate abuse and control of his victims by the man who once referred to himself as “the Pied Piper of R&B”. Various reports say the singer “used his fame, power, and a network of people” to maintain an “enterprise” of sexually abusing a multitude of victims, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez.
The statements gave way to absolutely horrible and graphic testimony from the first witness for the prosecution, Jerhonda Pace. Pace, who spoke out about her abuse in the Surviving R. Kelly documentary, detailed how she first met him as a 14-year old fan after his 2008 child pornography trial in which he was acquitted. She would go on to graphically describe how Kelly abused her over the years. Her testimony is expected to continue on Thursday, as part of the prosecution team’s case centering on six victims named in the indictment with evidence of 22 victims being allegedly abused overall.
R. Kelly’s defense attorneys, at times undergoing turbulent changes, were represented by Nicole Blank Becker in court. Her opening statement aimed to cast doubts on those accusers, claiming that they “have an agenda” and advising the jury to be highly skeptical of their testimony. “Don’t assume that everyone’s telling the truth,” she said. There is no word yet on who else will testify, but it’s believed that others who’ve gone on record about Kelly’s behavior will be involved including someone close to the late singer Aaliyah, who prosecutors claim Kelly met when she was 12, beginning a sexual relationship with her and marrying her at 15.