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Prosecutor describes R. Kelly as a 'predator' as racketeering trial begins

Prosecutor describes R. Kelly as a 'predator' as racketeering trial begins
/ © Cover Media

The racketeering trial against R. Kelly began in New York on Wednesday, with the prosecutor describing him as a "predator" in her opening remarks.

On the first day of the trial against R. Kelly, Jerhonda Pace alleged she lost her virginity to the singer after meeting him at a party in 2009 when she was 16 years old.

Over the following six months, Pace was allegedly physically and emotionally abused by the musician, forced to follow what she called "Rob's rules".

According to The New York Times, Pace claimed she was required to call the singer "daddy" when in his home and acknowledge his presence each time she entered the room. If she didn't, she was allegedly physically and sexually abused.

In her opening statement to the jury, prosecutor Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez, said Kelly was a "predator" who used his fame to lure in vulnerable, underage fans to live with him and ultimately control every aspect of their lives.

The 54-year old was indicted in 2019 on nine counts of racketeering for allegedly recruiting minors for sex. Racketeering allows the prosecution to include crimes that are usually outside the statute of limitations. Kelly is also being charged with violating the Mann Act, which prohibits the transportation of people across state lines, a law that is aimed at cases of human trafficking and prostitution.

Pace is one of six women who are involved in the trial after first speaking out for the 2019 docuseries Surviving R. Kelly. Four women are choosing to remain anonymous, either by using only their first name or a pseudonym.

The trial is also expected to address Kelly's marriage to late singer Aaliyah in 1994, when she was 15 and he was 27. In the docuseries, the musician's former tour manager alleged he orchestrated the wedding by falsifying documents that listed Aaliyah's age as 18.

Accusations of sexual abuse have followed the Ignition (Remix) singer over the last two decades, with this week's trial being the second time he has appeared in court over allegations of sexual misconduct. In 2002, a jury found him not guilty on 14 counts of child pornography.

Kelly has remained steadfast in maintaining his innocence, with his defence arguing in their opening statements that the supposed victims are merely hurt fans seeking fame and attention. They argued that fans willingly visited him and "knew what they were getting into", according to Variety.

"We believe their testimony will crumble," said Nicole Blank Becker, one of Kelly's four lawyers for the case. "There will be so many untruths told to you, ladies and gentlemen, that even the government won't be able to untangle the mess of lies."

The second day of the trial continues on Thursday.

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