5 Women Among Those Chosen for R. Kelly Jury in New York Sex Trafficking Trial

Five women were among the anonymous jurors picked for R&B star R. Kelly's New York City sex trafficking trial, which goes forward next week with opening statements.

Along with seven men, the women were selected after a three-day screening process. The trial itself is anticipated to last between six and eight weeks, Newsweek earlier reported.

Kelly is facing multiple charges including kidnapping, racketeering in relation to the sexual exploitation of children, forced labor, and sex trafficking. Prosecutors also accused the singer of starting a criminal enterprise that helped him "recruit women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity."

Due to coronavirus restrictions, the jurors will be socially distanced throughout the gallery, where other members of the public and reporters would usually sit.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

R. Kelly in court 2019
Five women and seven men were selected as jurors for singer R. Kelly's upcoming New York City sex trafficking trial that is set to begin next week. In this photo, Kelly appears in court for a hearing to request that he be allowed to travel to Dubai at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on March 22, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. E. Jason Wambsgans, Pool/Getty Images

The panel was sworn in on Wednesday after dozens of potential jurors were screened by U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly in federal court in Brooklyn.

The judge sought assurances from prospective jurors that they could remain impartial despite the bad publicity swirling around Kelly since his 2019 arrest. Some told her that they were mainly aware of Kelly from his smash hit "I Believe I Can Fly." Many said they knew little or nothing about the case.

The jury selection spanned three days with Kelly seen on a video feed sitting impassively at the defense table, wearing glasses and dressed in a suit. The scene was beamed into an overflow courtroom after a judge took the unusual step of barring the press and public from watching trial in person, citing coronavirus concerns.

The multiplatinum-selling singer has denied any wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty to charges accusing him of leading an enterprise of managers, bodyguards and other employees who helped him recruit women and girls for sex. Federal prosecutors say the group selected victims at concerts and other venues and arranged for them to travel to see Kelly.

Defense lawyers have said Kelly's alleged victims were groupies who turned up at his shows and made it known they "were dying to be with him." The women only started accusing him of abuse years later when public sentiment shifted in the #MeToo era, they said.

Kelly, 54, won multiple Grammys for "I Believe I Can Fly," a 1996 song that became an inspirational anthem played at school graduations, weddings, advertisements and elsewhere.

R. Kelly trial
Federal prosecutors in New York on Friday, July 23, 2021 asked a judge for permission to admit more evidence for which R&B singer R. Kelly has not been charged, at his upcoming sex-trafficking trial in Brooklyn. This photo from Wednesday June 26, 2019, shows Kelly arriving at the Leighton Criminal Court in Chicago for arraignment on sex-related charges. Amr Alfiky, File/AP Photo