The sex trafficking trial against R. Kelly, legal name Robert Sylvester Kelly, has summoned jurors in New York as the R&B singer faces several charges. According to the Associated Press, jury selection began Monday (Aug. 9). U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly vetted jurors by asking if they were able to keep an open mind, not be influenced by publicity, and presume Kelly innocent until proven guilty.
Insider reported the 54-year-old’s legal team has requested the judge drop certain charges. Kelly’s attorneys said that prosecutors should not have charged the 12 Play singer with breaking New York law after he was accused of giving accusers herpes. The lawyers, Thomas A. Farinella and Nicole Blank Becker, claim prosecutors were wrong in bringing several sex-trafficking charges as well.
According to the report, they argued the relevant law says transmitting “an acute, bacterial venereal disease such as syphilis or gonorrhea” would be considered a misdemeanor, but transmitting a viral disease such as herpes would not.
Farinella and Becker have previously filed a memo opposed to the prosecution’s request to introduce uncharged allegations against the Chicago native during his trial, claiming the testimony would limit his ability to have a fair trial, violating his constitutional rights.
Judge Donnelly, along with the lawyers, will select 18 jurors total, 12 who will deliberate and six alternates. Judge Donnelly referred to each juror by number, not name, and banned them from reading any coverage of the trial. They will be transported by federal marshals to and from the courthouse for the duration of the trial. Of the 38 jurors questioned on Monday, 13 were dismissed based on their answers to some of the judges screening questions. The court hopes to narrow the pool to 40 individuals before lawyers issue their challenges.
Opening statements are scheduled to begin on Aug. 18 and the trial is expected to last four weeks. As VIBE previously reported, a criminal investigation was launched against the Trapped In The Closet singer after the devastating docuseries Surviving R. Kelly aired on Lifetime in 2019. Since that initial inquiry, Kelly has been investigated in multiple states. As he awaits trial in New York, he also faces charges in Illinois. He will stand trial in the midwestern state once the New York trial ends.
According to CBS 46, as of Monday, the family of Joycelyn Savage, 26, claims she is still being held by the singer and hopes she can come home to Atlanta so he can also face charges in Georgia. Savage and her family appeared in the Surviving R. Kelly docuseries. On behalf of the singer, attorney Steven Greenberg informed the outlet that all of the women in Atlanta were willing participants in consensual relationships and that Kelly would never face charges in Fulton county.
“It’s been a few months since they actually spoke to Joycelyn Savage,” said Family attorney Gerald Griggs. “Allegations of being locked in rooms and not being able to speak to anyone, not being able to speak to any family or other male figures, being forced to eat and call an individual daddy.”
“We just want him to release her and let her live her life,” pleaded her mother Jonjelyn Savage.
The outlet reported the family claims they met R. Kelly at an Atlanta boutique and went to his concert afterward. While backstage, he secretly slipped a young Joycelyn his contact information.
Griggs explained, “Ultimately she was checked out of school and she’s been with Mr. Kelly ever since. The parents were always only interested in developing a music career for her. She was already a talent before the two met.”