Second federal trial against R. Kelly begins in Chicago

CHICAGO — Jury selection began Monday in the second federal trial of R. Kelly, who faces allegations that he filmed himself having sex with young girls and conspired to obstruct justice in relation to his 2008 child-pornography trial in Chicago.

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Authorities arrested Kelly, whose legal name is Robert Kelly, in 2019. Prosecutors allege that, beginning in the late 1990s, the R&B star met four girls and filmed explicit videos with them when they were as young as 13.

In court records, officials said that Kelly and two of his former employees, Derrel McDavid and Milton “June” Brown, later paid people off to cover up evidence and to keep them from cooperating with authorities investigating the videos. They also pressured victims to lie to authorities to cover up Kelly’s crimes, according to prosecutors.

The girl at the center of the 2008 child pornography case against Kelly was among those who were allegedly pressured. Authorities said that she lied to investigators and a grand jury about her relationship with Kelly on the singer’s orders. For years, prosecutors said Kelly and McDavid paid her and her family in an effort to conceal evidence about the pair’s relationship, including giving the girl a luxury SUV and sending her parents on trips abroad.

Last week one of Kelly’s attorneys, Jennifer Bonjean, said in a social media post that she expected it would “be difficult to find 12 people who can be fair given the media war on my client.”

On Sunday, Bonjean filed a motion asking a judge to excuse all potential jurors who had seen the 2019 docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly,” noting that several people who appear in the series are expected to testify. The judge denied the motion on Monday but said that potential jurors would be questioned about the show, according to The Associated Press.

It was not immediately clear how long jury selection would take.

Authorities have also charged McDavid and Brown with conspiracy to receive child pornography and other charges.

For decades before his arrest in 2019, Kelly had faced allegations of sexual misconduct and assault. Last year, a federal jury in New York found the 55-year-old guilty of heading a racketeering and sex trafficking scheme that for decades preyed on young women. In June, a judge sentenced Kelly to serve 30 years in prison related to the charges.

Kelly has long denied any wrongdoing.

If he’s convicted of charges in Illinois, Kelly could face decades more in prison.

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