Speed Reads

the R. Kelly trial

R. Kelly prosecutor makes opening statement in sexual abuse trial: 'This case is about a predator'

The sexual abuse trial of R. Kelly is underway, with prosecutors beginning to make their case that the disgraced R&B star is a "predator."

Kelly, who has for years faced allegations of sexual abuse, was hit with charges stemming from the alleged abuse of six victims between the ages of 15 and 22, and his trial in Brooklyn officially began on Wednesday. In an opening statement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez told jurors that the case "is not about a celebrity who likes to party a lot," but rather, "This case is about a predator," per The Associated Press

Melendez alleged that Kelly "dominated and controlled" his alleged victims "physically, sexually and psychologically" after his fame brought him "access to girls, boys and young women." Additionally, Melendez said that Kelly would record sexual encounters in case "he needed to protect himself by threatening their exposure," per CNN

Meanwhile, Kelly's attorney, Nicole Blank Becker, argued that he "didn't recruit" the alleged victims, but that they "were fans" who "came to Mr. Kelly" and "knew exactly what they were getting into." Becker also told the jury not to "assume everybody's telling the truth" during the trial. 

Kelly's trial is being especially closely watched after he was previously acquitted in a child pornography case in 2008. The case is also significant as a trial in the #MeToo era in which most of the accusers are Black women, The New York Times writes

"If you take these kinds of accusers who have traditionally been most dismissed, most disregarded, most cast aside — and those women are able to be believed and have jurors care enough to convict, that matters," former assistant district attorney Deborah Tuerkheimer told the Times. "And that would send a powerful message."