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R. Kelly Mugshot

Source: Cook County Department of Corrections / Cook County Department of Corrections

NEW YORK, N.Y. — A prosecutor has introduced a jury to the sex abuse claims against R&B star R. Kelly, saying the criminal trial is “about a predator” who used his fame to manipulate children and women.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez delivered the opening remarks Wednesday at the long-anticipated federal trial arising from years of allegations that Kelly sexually abused women and girls.

It came more than a decade after Kelly was acquitted in a 2008 child pornography case in Chicago. That acquittal was a reprieve that allowed his music career to continue until the #MeToo era caught up with him, emboldening alleged victims to come forward.

In the New York City sex trafficking trial, the singer is facing an anonymous jury made up of seven men and five women. The panel was sworn last week after dozens of potential jurors were screened by U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly in federal court in Brooklyn.

The judge in the case sought assurances from prospective jurors that they could remain impartial given all the bad publicity swirling around Kelly since his 2019 arrest.

The trial comes two years after Kelly was charged with abusing women and girls for nearly two decades. He’s charged with leading what prosecutors call a criminal enterprise of managers, bodyguards and other employees who allegedly helped him recruit women and girls for sex.

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