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In this file photo, R. Kelly walks out of the Daley Center after a hearing in a child support case in March 2019.

In this file photo, R. Kelly walks out of the Daley Center after a hearing in a child support case in March 2019.

Ashlee Rezin

R. Kelly jury to hear opening statements in Chicago trial

The trial of R&B star R. Kelly is set to begin Wednesday with opening statements at the downtown Dirksen Federal Courthouse.

Kelly, who was convicted last year of trafficking minors for sex and racketeering in a federal court in New York, now stands accused of sexual abuse of underage girls and conspiring to fix his 2008 child pornography trial in Cook County.

Kelly was acquitted in the 2008 case, but the same alleged victim is among five women who might take the stand to testify against Kelly. That woman, identified in prosecutors’ filings as Minor 1, refused to testify against Kelly in 2008, but she and her parents are expected to take the stand this time around.

The allegations against Kelly date back to the 1990s, when the multiplatinum-selling artist’s musical career was at its peak.

Also on trial with Kelly are two co-defendants — his former manager, Darrel McDavid, and ex-employee Milton “June” Brown. McDavid is charged along with Kelly in an obstruction-of-justice conspiracy and Brown is charged along with McDavid and Kelly in a child pornography conspiracy.

The crowds of supporters that attended Kelly’s 2008 trial in Chicago have been completely absent during the two days of jury selection this week. Security in the courtroom has been tight even for the federal building, and COVID restrictions will make for limited seating in the courtroom and an overflow room with a live video feed.

In his New York case, the 55-year-old Kelly was found guilty on all counts, and in June was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Jury selection took two full days, ending with a panel of six white and six Black jurors. There are eight women on the jury, and four men. The trial is set to last four weeks.

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