The world knew him from his hits ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ and ‘The World’s Greatest. But now R. Kelly is best known and infamous for his shady practices with underage girls. The singer is due to appear in court this week.
54-year-old R. Kelly has been incarcerated for two years pending his case. He is to appear in New York on a laundry list of charges, including sexual abuse, extortion, human trafficking and bribery. He is suspected of sex trafficking and fraud and is said to have had a business that not only had to promote his music but also recruited girls and women. The girls and also a boy would have been blackmailed with explicit images.
Stories and allegations of sexual abuse have haunted Robert Sylvester Kelly, as his full name is, since the beginning of his career in the 1990s.
The dubious marriage with the much younger singer Aaliyah caused a lot of controversies. R. Kelly was 27 years old when he married 15-year-old Aaliyah. Her age is said to have been falsified to 18 years on the marriage papers. Kelly would have bribed an official for this. Kelly wrote and produced Aaliyah’s first album, Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number. The marriage ended when her family got wind of it.
In 1996, Tiffany Hawkins filed a lawsuit against Kelly. She is said to have suffered ‘personal injury and emotional damage’ from their three-year relationship. It started when she was 15 and ended when she was 18. The case has reportedly been settled out of court.
In 2002, the singer was arrested. This is partly due to the production of child pornography. He would have seduced a minor to have sex and filmed this. Kelly was released after paying $750,000 bail. It took six years for the case to go to court. Meanwhile, R. Kelly had great success with his music and was even nominated for an award. Kelly was acquitted because they could not prove that the girl in the footage was a minor.
R Kelly was again discredited in 2017 after a detailed Buzzfeed article appeared. In it, he was accused of locking up six women in a sex cult. He took control of their lives after they approached him for help with their music career. According to the article, he determined what they ate, wore and how they should behave during sex. Kelly again denies the allegations.
These are just a few examples from his dark past. The 2019 documentary series Surviving R. Kelly stirred up a lot. Here’s a closer look at R. Kelly’s practices. “I never fully recovered from it,” says one of the victims in it. It also becomes clear that the people around R. Kelly were involved. “This was what he wanted so we had to make sure he got it,” says his former tour manager.
In an interview with CBS, R. Kelly reacted emotionally to the accusations: “Everyone is saying something bad about me. They describe me as the devil, I’m not.”
Kelly would also be an abuse victim herself. In his autobiography, which appeared in 2012, he describes being raped by a family member as an 8-year-old boy.
R Kelly has been in jail since 2019 after being charged again. According to the prosecutors in the trial that starts this week, Kelly and his entourage would allow underage girls to come backstage during concerts, among other things. Some are said to have sex with him and sometimes have been held without food for days.
The prosecutors will also present evidence that Kelly had sexual contact with the now-deceased singer Aaliyah when she was only 13 years old.
One of the victims who will probably testify against R. Kelly is a man who was invited to R. Kelly’s studio in 2006 at the age of 17 and was allegedly sexually assaulted there. Kelly has denied all of the allegations.
The jurors in this process will remain anonymous to avoid being influenced from the outside. In previous lawsuits, R. Kelly’s accomplices tried to intimidate and silence witnesses.
The trial will last between six and eight weeks. If convicted, R. Kelly could face decades in prison.
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