R. Kelly’s trial has started, and the prosecutor is holding no punches. She called the disgraced R&B singer, a “predator,” and put up a witness that said he gave her an incurable disease.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez said in her opening statement that the self-proclaimed “Pied Piper of Music” used “lies, manipulation, threats, and physical abuse” to control the women and underaged girls that he abused, and terrorized them by filming sexual encounters he had with them.
As a Brooklyn jury of seven men and five women listened to the testimony, the former chart topper’s defense team tried to reframe the narrative and portrait of their client. One way that they attempted to do this was by pointing out “gaps” in the state’s argument. The defense also blamed the victims, alleging that the case is an act of revenge from scorned ex-lovers.
Cruz Melendez disagrees — vehemently.
“This case is about a predator,” Cruz Melendez said. “This case is not about a celebrity who likes to party a lot.”
Six women will be spotlighted in the case. Two women were mentioned in the indictment were teenagers (15 & 16) during the alleged relationships. One was his former protégé and wife, Aaliyah Haughton.
As reported by AllHipHop.com, Aaliyah was 15 when she married R. Kelly, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly. Kelly paid people to falsify documents that raised her age to 18 in an effort to get married three months after her smash debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number.
The marriage supports the prosecution’s belief that he used an entourage of managers, bodyguards, friends, and family members to recruit and seek out the victims. He used the same network to blackmail them should they decide to leave.
Jerhonda Pace, who was 16 when she first started having sex with R. Kelly, said that he made her call him “Daddy” and at times he would choke her until she passed out. She also said that she also had to ask before she went to the bathroom.
She also said, “He told me he was going to train me to please him sexually” and that he wanted her to pretend to be 19 when they were around people. She also testified that he gave her herpes.
Pace will continue her testimony on Thursday, August 19.