R. Kelly’s long awaited one-month long trial, in which he has been charged for multiple counts of sexual abuse, bribery, and racketeering, started yesterday. The prosecution began their case with a powerful opening statement that accused the singer of being a predator. Assistant US Attorney Maria Melendez said:
This case is about a predator.
This case is not about a celebrity who likes to party a lot.
Accusations by the prosecution
Melendez says that the singer used all sorts of means to cover up his crimes. He would bribe and blackmail victims with videos with photographs and videos of them having sex, and had bodyguards, drivers, lawyers, and accountants that backed him up.
She also spoke of how his victims were ordered to obey strict rules that dictated when they would eat, sleep, and go to the bathroom. They were also forced to refer to Kelly as ‘Daddy'.
Melendez’s stance was backed up with a detailed statement given by their first witness, Jerhonda Pace.
The first witness
Pace, who is 28 years old, had already once given her account of R.Kelly’s abuse on the 2019 documentary series, Surviving R Kelly. However, she has spoken up once again, going in detail about how he sexually violated her despite knowing that she was under-aged.
According to Pace, when she first met Kelly she had told him that she was 19. However, she revealed her true age to him the day he took her virginity. She was 16 at the time and claimed that she even showed him her ID as proof. Despite her shocking revelation, Kelly continued their relationship. She told the jury:
I felt uncomfortable. I felt like it wasn't right, that I should tell him my age.
He asked me, 'What is that supposed to mean?' and told me to tell everyone I was 19 - and to act 21.
They continued to see each other for 6 months, but what she described in the court was far from a real relationship. She spoke about how Kelly was a controlling man who used violence when she broke something she called ‘Rob’s rules.’ She added:
He slapped me and choked me until I passed out.