NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess) — R&B singer R. Kelly’s federal trial began on Wednesday in New York as he faces charges of one count of racketeering, a charge that is most commonly applied to organized crime figures.
The racketeering charge encompassing 14 underlying charges that including sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping, forced labor and Mann Act violations involving the coercion and transportation of women and girls in interstate commerce to engage in illegal sexual activity.
Kelly is also charged with four counts of violating the anti-sex trafficking Mann Act related to his alleged interstate transportation of a victim to New York to engage in illegal sexual activity, and his alleged exposure of her to an infectious venereal disease without her knowledge.
According to the federal indictment and other court filings, Kelly and his team, including managers, bodyguards, drivers, personal assistants and runners, as well as members of his entourage were alleged to have been a part of the reacketeering enterprise, which prosecutors allege operated two decades in New York, Illinois, Connecticut, California and elsewhere.
Kelly, at the center of the alleged enterprise, used his fame to recruit women and girls for sexual activity, identifying women at events and having them escorted backstage, or to events following his musical performances.
Kelly was also alleged to have maintained contact with the women so his team could arrange travel and lodging for them to visit him for sexual purposes.
Kelly was also charged last month in a separate federal indictment unsealed in the Northern District of Illinois with federal child pornography and obstruction charges.
“As alleged, R. Kelly, together with employees and members of his entourage, engaged in a racketeering enterprise that preyed upon women and girls who attended his concerts so that the victims could be available to engage in illegal sexual activity with him at a moment’s notice,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.
“This indictment makes clear that fame and power will not shield anyone from prosecution, particularly predators who victimize vulnerable members of our communities for their own sexual gratification.”
Kelly maintains his innocence, and his attorneys have raised questions about the charges leveled against their client, including in a recent legal filing in which they objected to prosecutors admitting additional evidence about uncharged acts.
“The government has done nothing more than stitched together a series of events spanning over three decades in an attempt to create an irrefutable mirage of guilt as to Mr. Kelly which will make it impossible for him to receive a fair trial,” attorneys Farinella and Nicole Blank Becker wrote in the August 6th filing.