R. Kelly’s second federal trial is officially underway, and the disgraced singer’s attorneys are not off to a good start.
On Monday, jury selection began in federal court in Chicago where Kelly is facing charges of obstruction of justice and child pornography. Kelly’s attorneys made a bid to exclude potential jurors who have seen the Lifetime docuseries Surviving R. Kelly. But that bid was lost, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Along with the charges stemming from the infamous 2002 sex tape, several other women claim that Kelly persuaded them to commit sexual acts, and record the sexual acts while they were underage. Two of those victims are expected to testify in court.
Surviving R. Kelly was a documentary series from Lifetime that laid out the multitude of sexual abuse allegations against the R&B singer over his decades-long career. Along with many celebrities and people that worked closely with him, the series also featured many of Kelly’s alleged victims.
Last month, R. Kelly’s manager was convicted of trying to forcibly cancel a screening of the docuseries by sending a threat to the theater where it was being shown.
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No jurors were seated Monday. But after court, Kelly defense attorney Jennifer Bonjean said the jury pool had already been tainted by mentions of Kelly’s previous conviction in court.
“Juries aren’t supposed to know about prior convictions or prior bad acts unless someone takes the stand,” Bonjean said, adding, “How can we be assured that they will not take that into account?”
Despite the news of the failed bid from Kelly’s attorneys, the judge presiding over this trial excused about half of the 63 potential jurors who were questioned Monday during jury selection. Some of those people did include those who said they would find it hard to be fair given what they know about the case and his previous convictions, according to the Chicago Tribune.
A total of 34 jurors made it past the first round of jury selection on Monday.
Jury selection continues Tuesday morning and opening statements won’t begin until all the jurors are selected.