After several delays, the first phase of the sex trafficking trial of R&B hitmaker R. Kelly started Monday with jury selection in New York City.
Lingering health threats caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a shakeup of Kelly’s defense team pushed the trial into the summer, nearly two years after he was charged with abusing women and girls for nearly two decades.
U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly began questioning potential jurors about whether they can keep an open mind about Kelly two years after he was charged with abusing women and girls for nearly two decades. She reminded them the defendant was presumed innocent and that they should not be influenced by anything they’ve previously heard about the case.
The proceeding was being conducted amid coronavirus pandemic precautions restricting the press and the public to overflow courtrooms with video feeds. Much of the time, Kelly and potential jurors weren’t clearly visible on the feeds and the audio was often faint.
More screening was set for Tuesday. It was unclear how long the process will take.