New York (AP) – For years, R. Kelly has acted as an unassailable music colossus on the pop throne.

Hits like “I Believe I Can Fly” or “If I Could Turn Back The Hands of Time”, albums topped the charts, collaborations with other stars like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey or Britney Spears, sold out world tours and multiple Grammys – Kelly has long been one of the most successful musicians in the world.

But the singer has fallen deep – and on Wednesday, August 18, a lawsuit continues against Kelly in New York with the opening speeches, among other things for sexual abuse.

First scratches on the image of a pop superstar

Even during its most successful times, allegations and reports of sexual abuse by Robert Sylvester Kelly, born in Chicago in 1967, have been made public. His short marriage, which was later called off, to singer Aaliyah, then 15, in the mid-1990s, caused a sensation, but was initially criticized only behind closed doors, many other reports largely ignored. Several lawsuits for sex with minors have been settled out of court and Kelly was acquitted in 2008 in a trial for possession of images of serious child sexual abuse. But Kelly was arrested again in the summer of 2019 – while walking his dog “Believe” in Chicago.

The arrest was increasingly preceded by allegations, which accumulated around 2017 along with the emergence of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment. Along with a team of employees, Kelly is said to have forced boys, girls and women to have sex for years, practiced a “sex cult” on her property, and also allegedly detained, blackmailed and sexually exploited minors. His second wife Andrea, whom he married between 1996 and 2009, says her ex-husband abused her emotionally, physically and sexually and that she feared for his life. His first wife Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001, and this relationship is also discussed repeatedly in the allegations. In 2019, the sensational documentary “Surviving R. Kelly” summed it all up.

The deep downfall of the pop superstar

“We’ve looked the other way too long,” criticized fellow singer John Legend after the airing of “Surviving R. Kelly,” in which he also had a say in himself and the music industry. music. The documentary marks the beginning of the end of R. Kelly’s career: More and more stars then distanced themselves from the singer, radio stations, streaming services and finally his music label RCA, which is owned by Sony Music . In 2016, Kelly released his last album to date, and according to his defense attorneys he is now virtually penniless. The musician has repeatedly denied all allegations and accused his critics of a character assassination campaign.

Kelly has been in prison since her arrest in 2019, first in Chicago and then in New York. According to the indictment, the musician must answer for extortion and sexual exploitation of minors, among others. Its process should have actually started in May 2020, but the date has been pushed back further and further in the corona pandemic. The 54-year-old has repeatedly tried to use the pandemic as an opportunity to be released from prison on bail, but those requests have been rejected.

Dark prospects for the future

A jury was found last week in court in Brooklyn, New York: Judge Ann Donnelly has sworn seven men and five women, and six substitute jurors have been selected. Kelly followed suit-clad jury selection in court, but initially did not comment. With the opening speeches, the process will now enter the hot phase from Wednesday.

The process should take several weeks. If convicted, the singer could face decades in jail – and it still wouldn’t be over for Kelly. There are also indictments against the musician in Chicago and Minnesota.