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R. Kelly’s Sex Trafficking Trial Begins After Years Of Delays

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Harry Wilmerding Contributor
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Famed R&B singer R. Kelly’s sex trafficking trial began Monday as lawyers started the jury selection process at a federal court in Brooklyn, New York, USA Today reported.

Kelly, officially known as Robert Sylvester Kelly, was indicted in July 2019 on multiple charges including sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping, forced labor and sex trafficking, USA Today reported. Kelly allegedly used his managers, bodyguards and personal assistants to recruit women and underage girls for sex for nearly 20 years.

Kelly, 54, pleaded not guilty, and opening statements are scheduled for Aug. 18. (RELATED: R. Kelly In Solitary Confinement As He Fears For His Life In Prison)

The trial was set to start earlier this year but was moved after Kelly fired two of his lawyers in June, according to Reuters.

Singer R. Kelly turns to leave after appearing at a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on September 17, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Antonio Perez - Pool via Getty Images)

Singer R. Kelly turns to leave after appearing at a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on September 17, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Antonio Perez – Pool via Getty Images)

He has been behind bars since he was indicted and was moved to the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn in July, according to the Associated Press.

Kelly’s defense attorney Deveraux Cannick told U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly that his client gained so much weight in jail he needed to be measured for new clothes, the AP reported. Cannick also told the judge that Kelly’s “funds are depleted,” and asked for court transcripts to be made available without any cost.

A documentary titled “Surviving R. Kelly” was released in January 2019, outlining the sexual assault allegations against the renowned musician, The Wall Street Journal reported. The series led to state and federal charges in Illinois and a criminal case in Minnesota after he allegedly paid a 17-year-old girl to dance in front of him naked in 2001.

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