R Kelly Chicago trial: Jury selection in singer's trial on child pornography underway

ByLeah Hope and Christian Piekos via WLS logo
Tuesday, August 16, 2022
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The prospective jurors are being asked if they have seen the documentary "Surviving R Kelly" and what they know about allegations against the disgraced singer.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Jury selection in R. Kelly's federal trial on child pornography and other charges in Chicago began Monday morning

Kelly now faces child pornography and other charges in a trial that's expected to last up to four weeks.

R. Kelly's lead defense attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, and federal prosecutors walked into the Dirksen Federal Building Monday morning for day one of jury selection.

The prospective jurors are being asked if they have seen the documentary "Surviving R. Kelly" and what they know about allegations against Kelly.

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"Our system depends on these jurors to listen to the judge's instructions at the end of the trial and apply the law to the facts as they've seen them," ABC7 Legal Analyst Gil Soffer said.

"So there are these unique cases, and this is going to be one of them," Bonjean said. "At least there is that risk that we will not get that because of the pre-trial publicity that they've been exposed to."

The federal trial in Chicago is seen as a re-do of Kelly's state trial 14 years ago when a jury acquitted him of charges that he produced a video of himself having sex with a 14-year-old girl.

"The government is clearly of the view that justice was not served in that last case, that he was acquitted when he should have been convicted," Soffer said. "The fact that he conspired to obstruct those proceedings to obtain that acquittal, so they see good reason to re-try him now."

Why is R. Kelly on trial again?

At the time, both the teen and her parents denied it was her and did not testify.

In this federal case, Kelly and his co-defendants Derrel McDavid and Milton Brown are accused of paying off the victim in that video and her family.

This federal trial begins six weeks after Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in a New York courtroom for racketeering and sex trafficking. Kelly is appealing that conviction.

The Chicago trial is also expected to include testimony from four women who say they were minors when Kelly abused them.

"So we are going to hear this time from one victim after another, one witness after another telling what we can presume will be pretty hair-raising stories," Soffer said. "It'll be something very much different than what we saw last time."

The disgraced artist just started a 30-year prison sentence earlier this summer after being convicted of federal sex trafficking and racketeering charges by a New York jury last year.

RELATED | R. Kelly verdict: Chicago singer guilty on all counts in NYC sex trafficking trial

Kelly has publicly denied the federal charges in front of him in Chicago.

The major question Monday morning is the defense Kelly's legal team chooses to pursue.

"We'll have to see what the defense does," Soffer said. "Will they simply try to cast down on everything by calling all the minors, now adults, who are going to testify, liars? They may. The tough argument to make."