CHICAGO — Opening statements are underway Wednesday in the federal child pornography trial of disgraced R&B superstar R. Kelly and two of his former employees.
After two days of questioning by U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber, a pool of more than 120 potential jurors was winnowed down to 18 — 12 jurors and eight alternates.
Selected to be jurors were: Four Black women, four white women, two Black men and two white men. Another three white women, two Black women and a white man were selected as alternate jurors.
Opening statements will begin at 10 a.m. Monday. Prosecutors and the three teams of defense attorneys told Leinenweber that openings will last approximately three hours. Once those are delivered, prosecutors will call their first witness.
A federal grand jury in Chicago 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.
Earlier this year, Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison by a federal judge in Brooklyn after he was convicted of sex trafficking and racketeering.