R. Kelly jury selection focuses on 2019 documentary

Just weeks after being sentenced to 30 years in prison, R&B singer R. Kelly is back in a federal courtroom in Chicago.

Jury selection got underway Monday at Kelly’s trial for allegedly having sex with numerous underage girls during his meteoric music career.

Wearing a charcoal gray suit, glasses, and having gained a considerable amount of new weight, 55-year-old R. Kelly stood before a pool of prospective jurors at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse.


Six weeks ago, a federal judge in New York sentenced Kelly to 30 years in prison for a slew of underage sex crimes.

Here in Chicago, Kelly has been charged with child pornography, obstruction of justice and the enticement of minors into criminal sexual activity. Prosecutors say they will present testimony from a number of women who were as young as 13 when they say they had sex with Kelly, which they say he frequently videotaped.

Kelly’s defense attorney, Jennifer Bonjen, asked the judge to exclude any jurors who had watched the Netflix docu-series "Surviving R. Kelly" that aired in 2019 and 2020.

"If someone has seen all six episodes of ‘Surviving R. Kelly,’ which by the way includes testimonials and interviews with people who are going to take the stand, it would be impossible to separate ‘what did I hear during the documentary?’ versus ‘what am I hearing now?’" said Bonjean.

Also on trial with Kelly are two codefendants, Derrel McDavid and Milton "June" Brown. Both are former employees who allegedly helped Kelly cover up his crimes and pressured victims to not testify during the 2008 criminal trial in Chicago in which Kelly was acquitted.

By the end of court on Monday, more than 60 prospective jurors had been questioned. About a third of them were dismissed by Judge Harry Leinenweber when they said they could not give Kelly a fair trial.

Opening statements are scheduled to start on Wednesday and the trial should last a month.