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R. Kelly Sex Trafficking Trial begins in Brooklyn today

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R. Kelly, the R&B singer who has long faced allegations of sexual abuse, will appear in a Brooklyn courthouse Wednesday for the second week of a high-profile federal sex trafficking trial.

What We Know:

  • The singer’s alleged pattern of abuse drew intense public scrutiny with the rise of the #MeToo movement, leading to the #MuteRKelly social media campaign, boycotts of his hit records, protests across the country and, perhaps most notably, “Surviving R. Kelly,” a Lifetime documentary series featuring testimony from several accusers.
  • R. Kelly, 54, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, denies any wrongdoing. He is best known for tracks such as “I Believe I Can Fly” and “Bump N’ Grind.”

Charges

  • R. Kelly was charged in July 2019 with racketeering based on sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping, forced labor and Mann Act violations — charges involving the coercion and transportation of women and girls in interstate commerce to engage in illegal sexual activity, according to a Department of Justice news release.
  • The singer, his entourage and his employees — managers, bodyguards, drivers, personal assistants, runners for Kelly — allegedly recruited women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with him and arranged for victims to travel to concerts and other events across the U.S., according to court documents.

“For two decades the enterprise at the direction of R. Kelly preyed upon young women and teenagers whose dreams of meeting a superstar soon turned into a nightmare of rape, child pornography and forced labor,” Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge from Homeland Security Investigations, said when the charges were announced.

  • Federal prosecutors allege that Kelly forced his victims to follow various “rules.” They were not allowed to leave their room without his permission (including to go to the bathroom or eat), and they were required to call him “Daddy,” according to court documents.
  • The charges involve six women and girls.
  • The trial in Brooklyn is the second time R. Kelly has been prosecuted. He was acquitted on child pornography charges in 2008, when he was 41.

Defense

  • R. Kelly, who has been in federal custody since 2019, pleaded not guilty to racketeering, bribery, coercion, enticement and sex trafficking.

  • He also has pleaded not guilty to sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota.

Judge

  • Donnelly was nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in January 2015 by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate that October.

  • She worked for decades in the Manhattan district attorney’s office, where she successfully prosecuted the security systems company Tyco International in a high-profile corporate fraud case.

  • Donnelly made national headlines in early 2017 after she blocked part of former President Donald Trump’s ban on refugees and visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Jurors

  • The jury is made up of seven men and five women. They were selected and sworn in last week, the court said.

  • Donnelly screened dozens of potential jurors. She asked them if they believed they could stay impartial despite the negative publicity that has trailed R. Kelly since he was arrested in 2019.

  • The Associated Press reported that some prospective jurors told Donnelly they were aware of the singer mainly because of his 1996 hit “I Believe I Can Fly,” and many reportedly said they knew little — or nothing at all — about the case.

  • The jury-selection process lasted three days. R. Kelly could be seen on a video feed sitting at the defense table, dressed in a suit and wearing glasses.

 

Cameras are not allowed in this federal trial, download the Black News Alerts app for updates.

 

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Urban Newsroom Newswire is a digital news service offering aggregated stories and global coverage to urban TV and radio stations across the United States.

Entertainment

Former NFL Champ Nate Burleson joins CBS Mornings

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Former NFL player Nate Burleson has officially made his hosting debut on the newly branded morning talk show, CBS Mornings.

What We Know:

  • It was announced earlier this month that Burleson would replace Anthony Mason. Previously Mason joined Gayle King and Tony Doukoupil as host of the former CBS This Morning.  The show was rebranded in tandem to the relocation of their set to Times Square and Burleson joining the cast.
  • Since 2017, former NFL player Burleson has been the host of Good Morning Football on the NFL Network and has served as an analyst on The NFL Today on CBS. Burleson will continue his role on The NFL Today.

  • Burleson is the second former NFL player to join a network morning TV show, with Michael Strahan playing a major role as a co-host on ABC‘s Good Morning America.

Burleson credits Michael Strahan as the ‘blueprint’ for his career path, explaining, “He’s one of those individuals that I took a liking to once I retired because he rewrote the blueprint. I don’t want to say that he is the blueprint, because there has been plenty of players that have transitioned out of the game into TV. There have been African American men and women before him that have done the same thing, but he is a guy that has shown me the lay of the land, especially being a transplant from the West Coast to now New York.”

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Polo G Reportedly Arrested in Los Angeles on Concealed Weapon Charge

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Polo G was arrested on in Los Angeles on Monday, TMZ reports.

What We Know:

According to the outlet, Polo G was arrested after police allegedly found a concealed firearm on the Hall of Fame rapper, which TMZ points out is a felony. The supposed discovery of the firearm occurred when a vehicle Polo G was a passenger in was stopped.

It’s currently unclear why the vehicle was pulled over in the first place but it was reported that a male juvenile was also detained during the stop.

Polo was similarly arrested while he was in Miami for his Hall of Fame album release party. The arrest, which took place back in June, resulted in the rapper getting hit with charges of of battery on a police officer, resisting arrest with violence, and criminal mischief. The rapper was also a passenger in a vehicle at the time of that arrest.

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Cardi B and Offset Welcome Their 2nd Child Together, His 5th

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Cardi B welcomed her and Offset’s second child together on Saturday, September 4.

What We Know:

“9/4/21,” Cardi, 28, captioned a Monday, September 5, Instagram upload, alongside a blue heart emoji.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Cardi B (@iamcardib)

The couple announced the Grammy winner’s pregnancy in June at the BET Awards. The “WAP” rapper showed her baby bump in a sheer jumpsuit during a joint performance.

The couple welcome Kulture, 3, July 2018. Offset, 29, previously welcomed Jordan, 11, Kody, 6, and Kalea, 6, in previous relationships.

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