American singer-songwriter R. Kelly is facing federal child pornography and obstruction charges as jury selection begins Monday in his hometown of Chicago.
Kelly, 55, is accused of engaging in sex acts with five minors and recording some of the abuse on multiple videos. He is also accused of conspiring to intimidate victims and conceal evidence in an effort to obstruct law enforcement, including an investigation in the 2000s that resulted in his trial in 2008 on state child pornography charges, according to court documents.
All five accusers are expected to testify.
Two former employees of Kelly's music business, Derrel McDavid and Milton "June" Brown, are co-defendants in the federal trial. McDavid, 58, of Chicago, is accused of helping Kelly fix the 2008 trial, while Brown, 53, also of Chicago, is accused of receiving child pornography, according to court documents. All three men have denied the allegations.
On June 13, 2008, a Cook County jury acquitted Kelly on all 21 counts of child pornography related to a video depicting him having sex with a minor, who is one of the accusers in the federal trial. That same tape cassette will be entered into evidence at the federal trial along with three other videos, according to court documents.
The woman, now in her 30s and referred to in filings only as "Minor 1," met Kelly in the 1990s when she was 12 or 13 years old, according to court documents. Federal prosecutors alleged that Kelly and McDavid later threatened and sought to pay off Minor 1 and her parents so they wouldn't testify at the 2008 trial. They never did.
Born into poverty on Chicago's South Side, Kelly grew up to become lauded as an R&B legend and one of the most successful recording artists of all time, selling millions of albums worldwide and winning numerous accolades along the way, including three Grammy Awards. He was beloved by fans throughout much of his career despite being dogged by allegations of sexual misconduct.
That all seemed to change in January 2019, when American television channel Lifetime aired the documentary series "Surviving R. Kelly," which featured on-camera interviews with several women claiming to have been sexually abused by the singer, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly. The next month, Kelly was formally charged in Cook County with several counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
The docuseries went on to receive high praise and win a 2020 Peabody Award. Meanwhile, Kelly was dropped by his record label and many other artists who had previously collaborated with him distanced themselves. During an interview with CBS News' Gayle King in March 2019, Kelly cried, shouted and jumped from his chair while denying any wrongdoing.
On Sept. 27, 2021, Kelly was convicted on federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges stemming from his efforts over the years to use his superstardom status to ensnare and sexually abuse young fans, some of whom were just children. He was sentenced last month to 30 years in prison. Kelly has maintained his innocence and said he plans to appeal his conviction.