R&B singer R. Kelly, centre, arrives at the Leighton Criminal Court building for an arraignment on sex-related felonies in Chicago in June 2019. File picture: Amr Alfiky/AP
R&B singer R. Kelly, centre, arrives at the Leighton Criminal Court building for an arraignment on sex-related felonies in Chicago in June 2019. File picture: Amr Alfiky/AP

Anonymous jury for R Kelly sex trafficking trial

By Bang Showbiz Time of article published Nov 3, 2020

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R. Kelly’s federal sex trafficking case in Brooklyn will be heard by an anonymous jury, a judge has ruled.

The ‘Ignition’ hitmaker has been charged with sex trafficking and racketeering in Brooklyn, New York, and in a newly unsealed decision, it has been revealed the jurors on his case will be anonymous.

US District Judge Ann Donnelly issued the ruling on October 8, but it was only made public last week.

Donnelly wrote in her filing: “The government has established that empaneling an anonymous and partially sequestered jury is warranted.”

The judge declared that marshals will escort jurors in and out of the Brooklyn federal courthouse each day and sequester them during all breaks to protect them from outside influence, although they will still be able to go home at the end of the day.

Donnelly made her decision based on the allegations in Kelly’s indictment that accuse the shamed singer of heading up a criminal enterprise for 24 years designed “to promote the defendant’s music, to recruit women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with the defendant and to produce child pornography”.

Kelly is also being held on separate charges in Chicago, and Donnelly said her decision to keep the jury anonymous was also influenced by Kelly’s handling of his Chicago case, where he allegedly silenced witnesses through bribes, blackmail and threats.

Donnelly is also said to be worried about Kelly’s public profile, and the potential for social media to become “a tool for the harassment and intimidation of the jurors should their identities be made public”.

The judge's decision comes after three men - Richard Arline, Donnell Russell and Michael Williams - were arrested and charged in August for allegedly intimidating witnesses in Kelly’s New York City case.

Prosecutors alleged Richard Arline - who is a self-proclaimed friend of Kelly - offered $500k to an alleged victim in exchange for her to not co-operate with prosecutors in Kelly’s case.

Donnell Russell - who describes himself as a manager, advisor and friend of Kelly - allegedly threatened to reveal sexually explicit pictures of an alleged victim and publicly reveal her sexual history if she didn't withdraw her civil suit.

Whilst Michael Williams, who is a relative of someone who once served as Kelly's publicist, was arrested for allegedly setting fire to an SUV parked outside the Florida residence where an alleged victim was staying back in June.

At the time, R. Kelly denied any involvement with the men.

His attorney, Steven Greenberg, said: "Without question, Robert Kelly had nothing to do with any of these alleged acts by those charged. He has not attempted to intimidate anyone, or encouraged anyone else to do so. No involvement whatsoever.”

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