R Kelly’s Trial For Criminal Conspiracy Charges Begins In New York

R. Kelly, the disgraced R&B star accused of grooming and sexually abusing several young women, is officially on trial in New York City, where he faces the above charges as well as allegations that he kept them under his power through means of a criminal conspiracy. R. Kelly stands accused of numerous criminal acts, among them, bribing government officials, knowingly giving two women a sexually transmitted disease, and psychologically and physically abusing the women under his influence. The trial began today, with both sides delivering their opening statements.

According to the New York Times, the prosecution’s opening speech lasted around one hour, during which assistant US attorney Maria Cruz Melendez outlined the loose criminal organization Kelly allegedly fostered to help him keep these and other women under his thumb. She said that he “used his fame, his popularity and a network of people at his disposal to target, groom and exploit young girls, boys, and women for his own sexual gratification.” Some of those associates have already pled guilty to bribing witnesses on his behalf.

Kelly was said to have not only coerced some of the women to have sex with him but also with other men, often as a punishment for displeasing him, in addition to being isolated, locked alone in rooms for days, and being physically beaten by Kelly. Kelly’s defense denied the charges, attributing the expected testimonies against the singer to the women being fame-hungry.

Meanwhile, Kelly still faces the prospect of another criminal trial in Chicago, where he faces similar charges, including child porn and obstruction of justice charges.