CHICAGO — Less than two months after he was sentenced to 30 years in prison for sex trafficking and racketeering, disgraced R&B superstar R. Kelly will face another trial at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in Chicago.
Starting at 10 a.m. Monday, the jury selection process commenced in the singer’s child pornography trial, which is expected to last at least a month. Kelly was previously charged with child pornography in 2002 by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, though a jury ultimately acquitted him six years later.
To start the day, R. Kelly’s defense team presented an emergency motion asking the judge to reject any potential juror who has seen the docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly.” It was denied by U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber.
A federal grand jury indicted Kelly, 55, on 13 counts in July 2019, accusing him of producing and receiving child pornography, while also enticing minors to engage in illegal sexual activity.
The Grammy-winning, multiplatinum-selling singer — who has remained in law enforcement custody since his 2019 arrest — was initially charged with sexually abusing five minors, though a superseding indictment in 2020 added a sixth alleged victim.
Two of Kelly’s former employees were charged with him in the federal Chicago case: Derrel McDavid and Milton “June” Brown. Both are charged with one count of conspiracy to receive child pornography, while McDavid also faces two counts of receiving child pornography and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Prosecutors allege Kelly and those in his inner circle paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years in an effort to track down video tapes that Kelly made that allegedly show him engaging in sexual activity with underage victims.
The obstruction charge against McDavid, prosecutors say, stems from the charges brought against Kelly by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in 2002. That case centered around a single video recording that, prosecutors said at the time, showed Kelly engaging in sex acts with an underage girl — previously identified as Kelly’s goddaughter. The alleged victim in that case — who did not testify at trial — and the video footage are expected to be focal points in the federal trial starting this week.
The feds allege that Kelly and McDavid instructed the alleged victim and her family to give false testimony to the Cook County grand jury that was investigating Kelly in 2002.
“In approximately May 2002, McDavid instructed Minor 1’s father to provide knowingly false testimony to the Cook County grand jury investigating Kelly’s sexual relationship with Minor 1,” prosecutors wrote in the July 2019 indictment. “McDavid instructed Minor 1’s father to deny that Video 1 depicted Minor 1 engaged in sexual acts with Kelly, when McDavid knew that Video 1 did depict Minor 1 engaged in sexual acts with Kelly. As instructed, Minor 1’s father falsely denied to the grand jurors that Video 1 depicted Kelly and Minor 1, thus creating a false record and a false entry in a record, document, and tangible object.”
That same month, prosecutors allege, “Kelly persuaded Minor 1 to provide knowingly false testimony to the Cook County grand jury investigating Kelly sexual relationship with Minor 1. Minor 1 falsely denied to the grand jurors that Kelly engaged in a sexual relationship with Minor 1 and that Minor 1 was not depicted on Video 1, thus creating a false record and a false entry in a record, document, and tangible object.”
Kelly faces two other pending criminal cases in Cook County and Minnesota, but those have largely remained on hold while the federal cases move forward. His attorneys have said they will appeal both his conviction and sentence in Brooklyn federal court earlier this year.
Born in 1967 and raised on the city’s South Side, Kelly is one of the most successful musical artists Chicago has ever produced. Allegations of illegal sexual activity involving minors were first made public in late 2000 as part of a series of stories published by the Chicago Sun-Times. Though many of his fans remained loyal to Kelly, the 2019 documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly” prompted renewed scrutiny of the singer, who was criminally charged by Cook County prosecutors just weeks after the series aired.