The jury has retired in R. Kelly’s intercourse trafficking trial in New York, after a month of testimony concerning the star’s alleged sexual abuse of males, girls and underage women.
The 54-year-old is dealing with one cost of racketeering – which positions him as the top of a legal enterprise that preyed on younger girls – and eight counts of trafficking women and girls throughout state traces for prostitution.
As soon as one of many world’s greatest pop stars, Mr Kelly was initially arrested on these fees in July 2019, however his trial was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and scheduling points with separate instances he faces in different states.
Of their closing arguments, prosecutors painted Mr Kelly as a predator who destroyed the lives of individuals round him.
“He used lies, manipulation, threats and bodily abuse to dominate his victims,” mentioned assistant US legal professional Elizabeth Geddes, including that his immense wealth and fame allowed him to “cover in plain sight”.
Mr Kelly’s legal professionals sought to assault the credibility of the witnesses who accused him of sexual and bodily abuse, saying their tales have been manufactured or exaggerated, and casting them as opportunists cashing in on his fame.
“They’re monetising. They know what the sport is. They’re surviving off of R. Kelly,” Deveraux Cannick instructed the jury.
Mr Kelly, whose full identify is Robert Sylvester Kelly, has pleaded not responsible on all counts however refused the chance to testify in his defence.
If convicted, he faces between 10 years in jail and a life sentence.
Listed here are the important thing moments from the trial, a lot of which readers could discover upsetting.
Prosecutors painted a sample of predatory sexual abuse
Mr Kelly isn’t charged with rape or assault, however prosecutors have been allowed to current proof of potential crimes associated to the racketeering cost, no matter after they occurred.
As such, they’ve known as greater than half a dozen witnesses who mentioned they have been abused by Mr Kelly whereas they have been underage.
Each female and male, they described being approached by the star or one in all his associates after a live performance, in a shopping center, or in a McDonald’s, and being slipped a telephone quantity. Typically, Mr Kelly would provide to mentor their music profession, they alleged, in return for sexual favours.
A number of witnesses claimed Kelly stored them in a continuing state of concern, demanding they observe his stringent guidelines,and ordering them to name him “Daddy”. Those that disobeyed have been punished, typically with degrading sexual acts, they claimed. Two girls accused the star of rape.
Mr Kelly’s defence portrayed the ladies as “groupies” and jilted lovers, who have been in search of revenge after falling out of favour with the star.
“You heard a couple of man who handled these girls like gold,” Mr Cannick instructed the jury.
One witness mentioned she was choked till she misplaced consciousness
Jerhonda Tempo testified over the primary two days of the trial, giving an account of her time with the singer.
She mentioned Mr. Kelly managed what she wore, when she may eat, and whether or not she may use the toilet.
On one event, she recalled breaking “Rob’s guidelines”, after which the star “slapped me and choked me till I handed out,” she alleged.
Ms Tempo, now 28, was one in all a number of girls who spoke to the Surviving R. Kelly documentary in 2019.
In her testimony, she mentioned she began having intercourse with the singer when she was 16. She initially instructed him she was older, however when she revealed the reality, he continued the connection, instructing her to name him “Daddy”.
“He wished me to place my hair up in pigtails and costume like a woman scout,” she instructed the court docket.
Mr Kelly’s legal professionals tried to painting Ms Tempo as a “superfan” who reacted badly when the star misplaced curiosity in her. In cross-examination, Deveraux Cannick accused her of fabricating her story for cash and fame; and of “stalking” his consumer. She denied the claims.
One other lady mentioned she was pressured into having an abortion
The prosecution’s second witness mentioned she started a five-year relationship with Mr Kelly when she was 17 years previous. Like Ms Tempo, she alleged that the singer sought to manage each element of her life, demanded that she known as him “Daddy”, and would punish her if she didn’t comply.
The bodily abuse came about “almost each two to a few days,” she alleged.
Recognized solely as Jane Doe 5, the 23-year-old additionally instructed the court docket that Mr Kelly urged her to get an abortion she did not need, after she grew to become pregnant in 2017.
“He mentioned, ‘You should look into that abortion stuff as a result of you must preserve that physique,'” she mentioned.
An assistant mentioned he helped R. Kelly marry Aaliyah when she was underage
Mr Kelly’s former tour supervisor testified that he bribed a authorities employee to acquire a pretend ID for R&B star Aaliyah – who was then aged 15 – so the singers may marry.
Demetrius Smith, 65, mentioned he was knowledgeable Aaliyah is perhaps pregnant after a live performance on Mr Kelly’s 1994 tour, and that they deliberate to get married so Mr Kelly may keep away from potential prosecution for having intercourse with a minor.
Though Mr Smith initially objected to the plan, he says he finally instructed Mr Kelly, “‘I understand how to get her an ID,’ and that is what I did.”
One of many star’s former backing dancers later testified that she had unintentionally disturbed Mr Kelly and Aaliyah in a sexual state of affairs in 1993, a yr earlier than the wedding.
The girl, who testified beneath the identify Angela, mentioned Aaliyah would have been 13 or 14 on the time, making her the youngest of his alleged victims.
The minister who officiated the marriage, Nathan Edmond, additionally testified, saying he was unaware of who the couple have been on the time.
Mr Edmond, now 73, mentioned he was requested to signal a non-disclosure settlement after the ceremony however refused. As a substitute, he promised Mr Kelly he would by no means converse concerning the marriage ceremony. He solely testified on the trial beneath subpoena.
The wedding was annulled a yr after it came about. Aaliyah died in a aircraft crash in 2001.
Mr Kelly’s legal professionals described a lot of the testimony concerning Aaliyah as “fluff”. The wedding and Aaliyah’s alleged being pregnant will not be related to the costs he’s dealing with, argued Mr Cannick.
The one pertinent query was whether or not Mr Kelly tried to bribe an Illinois worker for a pretend identification.
“Robert knew nothing about it,” he mentioned.
Companions claimed they have been ‘knowingly contaminated’ with herpes
A number of girls claimed that they had contracted herpes after sexual activity with Mr Kelly, who did not disclose he carried the virus.
One witness, recognized solely as Jane Doe, mentioned the situation grew to become so unhealthy it acquired to “the purpose the place I could not stroll”.
She alleged the star “purposely gave me one thing he knew he had”.
One other witness, Kate, mentioned she had reached a $200,000 (£145,000) settlement with Mr Kelly after contracting the illness in 2001.
Mr Kelly’s longtime doctor, Kris McGrath, testified that he first suspected the singer had herpes in 2000.
Though checks got here again unfavorable, Dr McGrath famous the opportunity of a false unfavorable and mentioned he instructed the star to “inform your sexual companions to allow them to decide whether or not or to not have intercourse with you”.
The doctor additionally testified that, between 2007 and 2019, Mr Kelly was handled for genital herpes at the least 5 instances. In that point, he mentioned he had prescribed herpes treatment “so usually that I memorised the telephone quantity” of the star’s native pharmacy.
The star’s defence challenged Dr McGrath’s prognosis, and argued that, as herpes isn’t life-threatening, any associated fees shouldn’t be thought of.
Two girls accused R. Kelly of rape
A lady recognized as Abbie claimed that Mr Kelly pinned her down and raped her in his dressing room after a live performance in 1994 – simply two days after his marriage ceremony.
On the time she was 17, and had been invited backstage to satisfy the star with a pal. She claimed he had cleared the room earlier than assaulting her, telling the court docket: “I simply went clean.”
Now 44, Addie mentioned she had waited till now to report the assault “as a result of I did not need extra victim-shaming and extra trauma at the moment”.
The court docket heard a second allegation of rape within the fourth week of a trial, by a reporter who mentioned she was invited to Mr Kelly’s home for an interview in 2003.
As a substitute, she claimed she was locked in a room for a number of days and misplaced consciousness after being drugged. When she wakened, she noticed the star pulling up his trousers within the nook of the room.
“It felt like one thing had been within me,” she instructed the jury, saying later: “I used to be sexually assaulted.”
The defence accused her of fabricating the account, noting that Mr Kelly had paid for her journey to Chicago.
“The kidnapper paid her option to get there? The kidnapper paid her option to come?” Mr Cannick requested the jury. “I imply, come on.”
He added that there was no bodily proof or police report back to corroborate both rape accusation.
A number of witnesses mentioned they have been video-taped in humiliating sexual conditions
A lady named Anna testified that the star would spank her if she broke his guidelines, and claimed that he usually videotaped the punishment on an iPad.
On one other event, he compelled her to parade bare in entrance of a digicam, calling herself “silly” and a “slut”, she alleged.
Anna additionally testified that Mr Kelly made her be “sexual and seductive with bodily fluids”, echoing claims by Jane Doe 5, who mentioned the singer as soon as compelled her to smear faeces on her face and “put it in my mouth and act like I appreciated, loved that”.
Once more, he’s alleged to have taped this scene, and threatened to make her movie one other take as a result of she did not appear “into it sufficient.”
A male witness additionally described how the star coerced him into sexual encounters with girls, which he would then movie.
Through the encounters, the ladies, whose names he didn’t know, appeared “zombie-ish,” he mentioned.
In closing arguments, Mr Kelly’s staff portrayed the star’s conduct because the consequence of a “playboy way of life”.
“It is not against the law to love kinky intercourse,” argued Mr Cannick, including that “some individuals identical to” relationships between an older man and a “youthful feminine.”
He additionally dismissed the repeated declare that Mr Kelly ordered his girlfriends to name him “Daddy” as irrelevant, suggesting it was an affectionate time period.
“Daddy! It is virtually against the law to name a person a Daddy. I assume individuals cannot try this anymore,” Mr Cannick mentioned. “Ho is nice, daddy is unhealthy…. The previous Vice President [Mike Pence] known as his spouse Mom.”
Assistants mentioned working for R. Kelly was like “getting into the Twilight Zone”
R. Kelly’s former assistant Anthony Navarro testified that working for the singer was “virtually just like the Twilight Zone”.
“You went into the gate, and it was like a unique world, only a unusual place,” he instructed the court docket.
Mr Navarro labored for the star between 2007 and 2009, and mentioned he was issued with an inventory of “Rob’s Guidelines” – the identical phrase utilized by Ms Tempo in her testimony. Among the many most outstanding: “I wasn’t alleged to be speaking to any of the ladies – the friends – who have been coming into the home,” he recalled.
Mr Navarro additionally claimed to have pushed one in all Mr Kelly’s girlfriends throughout state traces, from Alabama to Atlanta – a key piece of proof for the prosecution’s trafficking case.
The defence dismissed the cost as absurd.
“They’re in relationships,” Mr Cannick instructed the jury. “This is rather like you taking your girlfriend, your spouse, your husband on enterprise.”
One other assistant, Diana Copeland, confirmed that ladies have been confined to their rooms inside Mr Kelly’s varied houses, workplaces, and studios.
She described a state of paranoia inside his compound, saying she was as soon as requested to alter right into a gown to show she was not sporting a wire.
“He may get fairly heated,” mentioned Copeland, who was Kelly’s assistant for 15 years. She instructed jurors he made her cry at instances.
Nonetheless, she mentioned she didn’t witness any sexual or bodily abuse throughout her time with the star.
Victims have been compelled to write down letters defending the star
5 months after Mr Kelly was arrested, investigators opened a secure and found a stash of the star’s private papers. Amongst them have been a number of letters written by the ladies he’s now accused of abusing, that appeared to absolve him of guilt.
One handwritten word started, “On the age of 17 I by no means had intercourse with Robert Kelly,” earlier than itemizing a collection of particular sexual acts that the writer mentioned she had not participated in with the singer.
One other lady, who testified as Jane, wrote that she spanked herself “actually onerous” till she had bruises in an effort to blackmail Mr Kelly.
On the witness stand, a number of of Mr Kelly’s accusers mentioned that they had been coerced into writing these messages.
“He wished us to incorporate letters saying that we had stolen cash from him, that we had stolen watches from him, that we had been molested by members of the family, that we had been abused and uncared for by members of the family and so forth,” testified one nameless witness.
Psychologist Daybreak M Hughes instructed jurors that letters like these gave Mr Kelly leverage if his alleged victims tried to go away or testify towards him.
She added that such energy dynamics have been widespread in cults, and had the impact of “slowly sucking the oxygen out of the room and when you realise it, you’ll be able to’t get out.”
Mr Kelly’s legal professionals dismissed the allegations, saying Kelly and his girlfriends functioned like a “household”.
Defence witnesses denied information of Mr Kelly’s alleged crimes
Mr Kelly’s defence was swift by comparability to the prosecution’s forensic, weeks-long case.
They known as simply half-a-dozen witnesses, primarily former workers of the star, who mentioned they didn’t recognise the behaviour described by his accusers.
Amongst them was Larry Hood, a former Chicago police officer who labored as Mr Kelly’s safety guard for a lot of years.
Mr Hood testified that he by no means noticed the star with underage women and by no means witnessed him hit a lady or lock a lady in a room.
“As a police officer, I might have needed to take motion towards that,” he instructed the court docket.
A former accountant for Mr Kelly additionally testified, saying that women within the singer’s entourage dressed “appropriately”, and that he didn’t recall Kelly angrily elevating his voice of their presence.
Dhanai Ramnanan, an aspiring singer who has labored with Mr Kelly since 2005, added that ladies within the star’s entourage have been by no means prevented from consuming or utilizing the toilet.
“Each time we would go to a restaurant, they’d sit down first, they’d order first, they acquired to eat first,” he mentioned of the star’s girlfriends. “I imply, chivalry, principally.”
Prosecutors tried to point out that the witnesses weren’t as near Mr Kelly as they claimed, and wouldn’t have been current throughout any alleged abuse.
Beneath cross-examination, a number of of the witnesses admitted their careers have been tied to Mr Kelly, and that that they had a vested curiosity in seeing him acquitted.
What occurs subsequent?
The jury has now retired to think about their verdict.
Whatever the end result, the singer is dealing with a separate trial in Chicago on youngster pornography and obstruction fees, along with intercourse abuse fees in Illinois and Minnesota.