R. Kelly’s sex trafficking and racketeering trial has been scheduled for early April, a judge ruled on Thursday (Nov. 19). The case stems from federal charges against the R&B singer in Brooklyn, which is one of three cities where he is being prosecuted.
District Judge Judge Ann Donnelly announced that jurors for the trial will be selected over a 10-day period starting in mid-March. The trial is scheduled for April 7. In a previous order, Donnelly ruled that members of the jury will remain anonymous and be partially sequestered.
Furthermore, jurors and others will be escorted to and from the Brooklyn courthouse by U.S. Marshals. Prosecutors pushed for these and other safety measures after arguing that Kelly displayed a “consistent pattern” of intimidating witnesses and trying to obstruct justice.
“Simply put, the defendant’s past behavior reveals that if given the opportunity to influence a potential witness, the defendant will take it, and his incarceration may not be enough to prevent such conduct,” prosecutors wrote.
Kelly’s case has been prolonged due to court delays from the Coronavirus. The singer has tried, unsuccessfully, to leave Chicago’s Metropolitan Correctional Center on multiple occasions due to the pandemic. Most recently, an appeals court rejected his sixth bid for release, claiming that he is a flight risk and possible danger to the community.
“The defendant continues to downplay the risk that he might flee, citing his attendance record in connection with the 2002 state criminal charges against him,” Donnelly said. “Even aside from the risk of flight, the risk that the defendant would try to obstruct justice or intimidate prospective witnesses has not dissipated and poses a danger to the community.”
Besides his upcoming Brooklyn trial, Kelly also faces charges in Chicago and Minnesota. In 2019, federal prosecutors in New York and Chicago indicted the “Ignition” singer on 18 charges, including child sexual exploitation, child pornography production, kidnapping, forced labor, racketeering and obstruction of justice.
That same year, a Minnesota prosecutor charged him with soliciting a minor and prostitution stemming from an alleged 2001 incident.
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