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R. Kelly’s ‘Dark Side’ Highlighted by Prosecutors as Sex Crimes, Child Pornography Trial Begins

A federal prosecutor made an initial attempt at shedding light on R. Kelly’s “dark side” during opening statements for the disgraced artist’s federal sex crimes and child pornography trial in Chicago on Wednesday, Aug. 17.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Julien told jurors that the superstar singer “had another side, a hidden side, a dark side, that he … did not allow the world to see.” Julien also accused Kelly’s co-defendants, Derrel McDavid and Milton Brown of knowing about Kelly’s alleged actions, and helping him keep that “dark side” private. 

Julien went on to preview the case prosecutors will try to build against Kelly throughout the trial. He claimed the singer “had sex with multiple children” and that he “made videotapes of himself having sex with children,” including his own goddaughter, identified as “Jane.” Jurors will reportedly see parts of three videos that allegedly show Kelly and Jane, and in two of them, Kelly allegedly refers to Jane’s “14-year-old” anatomy. 

At one point, Julien noted that Kelly had gone to “extraordinary lengths” to protect himself after investigators began looking into the allegations of sexual misconduct against him. He later claimed there was a fourth videotape allegedly containing child pornography. And while the jury would not be shown portions of it because Kelly and his associates were allegedly able to cover it up, Julien said they would hear testimony from witnesses who can speak to its existence. 

Kelly is facing multiple charges of coercing five minors into sex acts, and several charges related to producing child pornography. He, McDavid, and Brown were also charged with receiving child pornography as part of an alleged effort to recover missing tapes that allegedly show Kelly engaged in sex acts with minors. Kelly and McDavid are also facing obstruction of justice charges tied to allegations that they paid off people who knew about Kelly’s alleged abuse, and tried to impede the 2008 child pornography investigation into Kelly. All three men have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. 

Kelly’s defense attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, attempted to rebut the prosecution’s case in her opening statement, saying it “really does hinge on the testimony of liars, extortionists, people who engaged in the business of trafficking pornography.” Though Bonjean acknowledged that “Mr. Kelly is imperfect… It is important when the government wants to paint him as a monster that you remember we are talking about a human being. We implore you to keep those emotions in check.”

Kelly’s trial in Chicago began just over a month after he was sentenced to 30 years in prison after being found guilty on all counts of racketeering and sex trafficking against him at a federal case in Brooklyn last year. 

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