Editorial

EDITORIAL: As His Federal Trial Begins, Will R. Kelly’s Wings Be Clipped?

The federal trial for R&B superstar R. Kelly began Wednesday in New York City with his accusers hoping for a second chance at justice. Kelly faces multiple counts – from racketeering with underlying charges that include the sexual exploitation of children to kidnapping and sex trafficking women and girls. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Kelly previously faced a judge and jury in Illinois during his 2008 trial for state child pornography charges and was acquitted. This time, the circus-like events that accompanied his earlier appearance will not be possible as U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly has ruled that due to COVID-19 restrictions, the 12-person jury will be the only members of the public with an in-person view of the trial.

We anticipate prosecutors going for the jugular with claims that Kelly manipulated women and girls anxious to meet the superstar who worked with his associates in a criminal enterprise that lured victims to the singer. In his inner sanctum, some were sexually abused, they allege – at times, even filmed being abused.

Kelly, 54, has had a lot to think about having spent the last two years in federal facilities in Illinois and New York awaiting trial since his arrest in July 2019. And he has cause for concern. If convicted of the most serious charges, he will spend many years behind bars.

It’s a sad example of how fame and fortune can cause an individual to believe that they’re above the law. For Kelly, dealing with the pandemic, now allegedly bankrupt according to his legal team, and being illiterate, it’s undoubtedly been a harrowing experience.

But it has been just as painful, if not more, for the girls and women who say he abused them.

Kelly’s defense team says the public, up to this point, has only heard one side of the story. To that end, we await Kelly’s explanation and response to the charges he faces. And certainly, we hope that after the dust clears, justice will be served.

Still, we can’t help but wonder if Kelly has put himself in a position where he will be forced to fall upon his own sword while hundreds of others go about their merry way. If he really committed the numerous atrocities for which he has been accused, why didn’t anyone on his team speak up? Or did they, only to be silenced?

As for the girls he allegedly abused, where were their parents as their daughters were whisked away to his home, to hotels or other private venues? What were they doing? How could they be so unaware?

R. Kelly may be found guilty but it’s difficult to believe that he could have done so much harm to so many girls and women, without others “participating,” or at the least looking the other way while the pied piper lived out his fantasies to the detriment of innocent girls and women.

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