R. Kelly's federal racketeering trial began in NYC yesterday (August 18th). According to The New York Times, federal prosecutors shed more light on the singer's alleged marriage to Aaliyah. Kelly is facing several charges, including including forced labor, kidnapping, sex trafficking, and multiple violations of the Mann Act, which criminalizes the transportation of “any woman or girl” across state lines for “immoral purposes.”
During opening statements, Brooklyn Assistant US Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez addressed the singer's alleged marriage to Aaliyah when he was 27 and she was 15. Melendez said prosecutors believe the singer had learned that Aaliyah had become pregnant and that he was the father. He then allegedly orchestrated a plan to marry the underage singer so she could avoid testifying against him in court.
Cruz Melendez said, “This was, of course, a huge problem for him. If she was pregnant that meant there would be questions: At the very top of that list of questions — who is the father of that baby?”
Cruz Melendez continues, “This case is about a predator" adding that the singer used “his fame, his popularity and a network of people at his disposal to target, groom and exploit young girls, boys and women for his own sexual gratification.”
Kelly is facing 10 years to life behind bars if convicted of the charges.