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As jury selection begins in New York in the sex trafficking trial of R. Kelly, one of his alleged victims is speaking out publicly about the abuse she says she endured for years.
Kelly, 54, a Grammy-winning, multi-platinum-selling singer has been jailed since he was indicted on charges that allege he was the leader of an enterprise of staffers who helped him recruit young women and girls for sex. In July, Kelly was moved from a Chicago jail to the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn before his trial begins August 18. The charges involve six different women and girls, who aren't named in court filings.
Asante McGee, one of Kelly's alleged victimes, told "CBS This Morning" that she is still as scared of Kelly as she was when she viewed his notorious interview with Gail King.
“Whenever I hear his voice, I freeze up,” she told the hosts of “CBS This Morning.” “I'm trying to get a little better because I am in counseling, but when I hear his voice I am still terrified.”
McGee, who was an accuser in a similar case against Kelly in 2008 that saw him acquitted, added that she believes that justice will be served in this trial, as more evidence has been presented. She believes that because so many women came forward in this case and created a growing awareness on social media, public perceptions of the singer, and about sexual abuse, have changed.
McGee opened up to the hosts that it was a previous abusive relationship that helped her realize that Kelly was grooming her.
"When I actually started dating. Robert, and living with him, I started seeing that abuse. And because I was able to recognize the abuse sooner than later, I was able to escape," she said.
On Monday, TMZ reported that Kelly’s legal team argued that allegations that the singer exposed two alleged victims to a sexually transmitted infection should be tossed out. They argued that herpes doesn’t count as an STI, as defined by the New York State Department of Health.
“To allow the government to move forward with those counts would be to allow a clear mischaracterization and interpretation of the application of the statute, considering the statute clearly does not incorporate herpes,” Attorney Thomas Farinella wrote in a message to the judge overseeing the trial.
In July, the government alleged that a 17-year-old boy Kelly met at a McDonald's in December 2006 was invited to his Chicago studio where the singer allegedly propositioned the teen and had sexual contact with him, according to prosecutors' court filing.
A U.S. district judge ruled that this now-adult man will be allowed on the witness stand at Kelly’s upcoming New York racketeering trial and be identified only by his first name.
Jurors are expected to hear testimony from several of his accusers. A judge has ruled that the women will only be referred to by their first names.
Prosecutors have said the jury will also hear evidence that Kelly schemed with others to pay for a fake ID for the 15-year-old singer Aaliyah, in order to marry her in a secret ceremony in 1994.
The late pop star, who died in a plane crash in 2001 at age 22, is identified as "Jane Doe #1" in court filings in the case, as she was still a minor when Kelly began a sexual relationship with her and believed she had become pregnant, the papers say.
"As a result, in an effort to shield himself from criminal charges related to his illegal sexual relationship with Jane Doe #1, Kelly arranged to secretly marry her to prevent her from being compelled to testify against him in the future," the papers say.
Aaliyah Dana Haughton worked with Kelly, who wrote and produced her 1994 debut album, "Age Ain't Nothing But A Number."
The case is only part of the legal issues facing the singer. He also has pleaded not guilty to sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota.
Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, is best known for the late-1990s hit “I Believe I Can Fly” and the multi-part musical saga “Trapped In The Closet,” which was released from 2005 to 2012.
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