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R. Kelly trial: A look at the key moments as jury deliberates


By Mark Savage
BBC Music Correspondent

picture supply, Reuters
picture captionR Kelly has been awaiting trial since his arrest in 2019

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 ladies.

The 54-year-old is dealing with one cost of racketeering – which positions him as the head of a legal enterprise that preyed on younger girls – and eight counts of trafficking women and girls throughout state traces for prostitution.

Once considered one of the world’s largest pop stars, Mr Kelly was initially arrested on these prices in July 2019, however his trial was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and scheduling points with separate circumstances he faces in different states.

In their closing arguments, prosecutors painted Mr Kelly as a predator who destroyed the lives of individuals round him.

“He used lies, manipulation, threats and physical abuse to dominate his victims,” stated assistant US lawyer Elizabeth Geddes, including that his immense wealth and fame allowed him to “hide in plain sight”.

Mr Kelly’s attorneys sought to assault the credibility of the witnesses who accused him of sexual and bodily abuse, saying their tales had been manufactured or exaggerated, and casting them as opportunists cashing in on his fame.

“They’re monetising. They know what the game is. They’re surviving off of R. Kelly,” Deveraux Cannick advised the jury.

Mr Kelly, whose full title is Robert Sylvester Kelly, has pleaded not responsible on all counts however refused the alternative to testify in his defence.

If convicted, he faces between 10 years in jail and a life sentence.

Here are the key moments from the trial, lots of which readers might discover upsetting.

Prosecutors painted a sample of predatory sexual abuse

picture supply, Reuters
picture captionR. Kelly pictured arriving for a kid help listening to in Chicago in 2019

Mr Kelly just 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 once they occurred.

As such, they’ve referred to as greater than half a dozen witnesses who stated they had been abused by Mr Kelly whereas they had been underage.

Both female and male, they described being approached by the star or considered one of his associates after a live performance, in a shopping center, or in a McDonald’s, and being slipped a cellphone quantity. Often, Mr Kelly would provide to mentor their music profession, they alleged, in return for sexual favours.

Several witnesses claimed Kelly saved them in a relentless state of concern, demanding they observe his stringent guidelines,and ordering them to name him “Daddy”. Those who disobeyed had been punished, typically with degrading sexual acts, they claimed. Two girls accused the star of rape.

Mr Kelly’s defence portrayed the girls as “groupies” and jilted lovers, who had been looking for revenge after falling out of favour with the star.

“You heard about a man who treated these women like gold,” Mr Cannick advised the jury.

One witness stated she was choked till she misplaced consciousness

picture supply, Reuters
picture captionJerhonda Pace, who beforehand spoke on the Surviving R. Kelly documentary, was the first witness

Jerhonda Pace testified over the first two days of the trial, giving an account of her time with the singer.

She stated Mr. Kelly managed what she wore, when she might eat, and whether or not she might use the rest room.

On one event, she recalled breaking “Rob’s rules”, after which the star “slapped me and choked me until I passed out,” she alleged.

Ms Pace, now 28, was considered one of a number of girls who spoke to the Surviving R. Kelly documentary in 2019.

In her testimony, she stated she began having intercourse with the singer when she was 16. She initially advised him she was older, however when she revealed the reality, he continued the relationship, instructing her to name him “Daddy”.

“He wanted me to put my hair up in pigtails and dress like a girl scout,” she advised the courtroom.

Mr Kelly’s attorneys tried to painting Ms Pace 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 shopper. She denied the claims.

Another lady stated she was pressured into having an abortion

The prosecution’s second witness stated she started a five-year relationship with Mr Kelly when she was 17 years previous. Like Ms Pace, she alleged that the singer sought to manage each element of her life, demanded that she referred to as him “Daddy”, and would punish her if she didn’t comply.

The bodily abuse befell “nearly every two to three days,” she alleged.

Identified solely as Jane Doe 5, the 23-year-old additionally advised the courtroom that Mr Kelly urged her to get an abortion she did not need, after she grew to become pregnant in 2017.

“He said, ‘You need to look into that abortion stuff because you need to keep that body,'” she stated.

An assistant stated he helped R. Kelly marry Aaliyah when she was underage

picture supply, Getty Images
picture captionR. Kelly wrote and produced Aaliyah’s debut album, titled Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number

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 might marry.

Demetrius Smith, 65, stated he was knowledgeable Aaliyah could be pregnant after a live performance on Mr Kelly’s 1994 tour, and that they deliberate to get married so Mr Kelly might keep away from potential prosecution for having intercourse with a minor.

Although Mr Smith initially objected to the plan, he says he ultimately advised Mr Kelly, “‘I know how to get her an ID,’ and that’s what I did.”

One of the star’s former backing dancers later testified that she had by accident disturbed Mr Kelly and Aaliyah in a sexual state of affairs in 1993, a 12 months earlier than the marriage.

The lady, who testified below the title Angela, stated Aaliyah would have been 13 or 14 at the time, making her the youngest of his alleged victims.

The minister who officiated the wedding ceremony, Nathan Edmond, additionally testified, saying he was unaware of who the couple had been at the time.

Mr Edmond, now 73, stated he was requested to signal a non-disclosure settlement after the ceremony however refused. Instead, he promised Mr Kelly he would by no means discuss the wedding ceremony. He solely testified at the trial below subpoena.

The marriage was annulled a 12 months after it befell. Aaliyah died in a aircraft crash in 2001.

Mr Kelly’s attorneys described a lot of the testimony concerning Aaliyah as “fluff”. The marriage and Aaliyah’s alleged being pregnant will not be related to the prices he’s dealing with, argued Mr Cannick.

The solely pertinent query was whether or not Mr Kelly tried to bribe an Illinois worker for a pretend identification.

“Robert knew nothing about it,” he stated.

Partners claimed they had been ‘knowingly contaminated’ with herpes

picture supply, Reuters
picture captionR. Kelly was as soon as the largest R&B star in the world, with hits like Bump and Grind and I Believe I Can Fly

Several 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, stated the situation grew to become so dangerous it received to “the point where I couldn’t walk”.

She alleged the star “purposely gave me something he knew he had”.

Another witness, Kate, stated 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.

Although exams got here again unfavourable, Dr McGrath famous the risk of a false unfavourable and stated he advised the star to “inform your sexual partners so they can make a decision whether or not to have sex with you”.

The doctor additionally testified that, between 2007 and 2019, Mr Kelly was handled for genital herpes at least 5 occasions. In that point, he stated he had prescribed herpes medicine “so often that I memorised the phone number” of the star’s native pharmacy.

The star’s defence challenged Dr McGrath’s analysis, and argued that, as herpes just isn’t life-threatening, any associated prices shouldn’t be thought-about.

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 wedding ceremony.

At the time she was 17, and had been invited backstage to fulfill the star with a buddy. She claimed he had cleared the room earlier than assaulting her, telling the courtroom: “I just went blank.”

Now 44, Addie stated she had waited till now to report the assault “because I didn’t want more victim-shaming and more trauma at that time”.

The courtroom heard a second allegation of rape in the fourth week of a trial, by a reporter who stated she was invited to Mr Kelly’s home for an interview in 2003.

Instead, she claimed she was locked in a room for a number of days and misplaced consciousness after being drugged. When she awoke, she noticed the star pulling up his trousers in the nook of the room.

“It felt like something had been inside of me,” she advised the jury, saying later: “I was 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 way to get there? The kidnapper paid her way to come?” Mr Cannick requested the jury. “I mean, come on.”

He added that there was no bodily proof or police report back to corroborate both rape accusation.

Multiple witnesses stated they had 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 digital camera, calling herself “stupid” 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 stated the singer as soon as compelled her to smear faeces on her face and “put it in my mouth and act like I liked, enjoyed that”.

Again, 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 enough.”

A male witness additionally described how the star coerced him into sexual encounters with girls, which he would then movie.

During the encounters, the girls, whose names he didn’t know, appeared “zombie-ish,” he stated.

In closing arguments, Mr Kelly’s group portrayed the star’s conduct as the consequence of a “playboy lifestyle”.

“It’s not a crime to like kinky sex,” argued Mr Cannick, including that “some people just like” relationships between an older man and a “younger female.”

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’s almost a crime to call a man a Daddy. I guess people can’t do that anymore,” Mr Cannick stated. “Ho is good, daddy is bad…. The former Vice President [Mike Pence] called his wife Mother.”

Assistants stated working for R. Kelly was like “entering the Twilight Zone”

picture supply, Reuters
picture captionMr Kelly’s former assistant Diana Copeland stated she was compelled to write down a false confession of theft

R. Kelly’s former assistant Anthony Navarro testified that working for the singer was “almost like the Twilight Zone”.

“You went into the gate, and it was like a different world, just a strange place,” he advised the courtroom.

Mr Navarro labored for the star between 2007 and 2009, and stated he was issued with an inventory of “Rob’s Rules” – the similar phrase utilized by Ms Pace in her testimony. Among the most outstanding: “I wasn’t supposed to be talking to any of the girls – the guests – who were coming into the house,” he recalled.

Mr Navarro additionally claimed to have pushed considered one of 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 are in relationships,” Mr Cannick advised the jury. “This is just like you taking your girlfriend, your wife, your husband on business.”

Another assistant, Diana Copeland, confirmed that ladies had been confined to their rooms inside Mr Kelly’s numerous properties, places of work, and studios.

She described a state of paranoia inside his compound, saying she was as soon as requested to vary right into a gown to show she was not sporting a wire.

“He could get pretty heated,” stated Copeland, who was Kelly’s assistant for 15 years. She advised jurors he made her cry at occasions.

However, she stated she didn’t witness any sexual or bodily abuse throughout her time with the star.

Victims had been compelled to write down letters defending the star

Five months after Mr Kelly was arrested, investigators opened a protected and found a stash of the star’s private papers. Among them had been a number of letters written by the girls he’s now accused of abusing, that appeared to absolve him of guilt.

One handwritten be aware started, “At the age of 17 I never had sex with Robert Kelly,” earlier than itemizing a collection of particular sexual acts that the writer stated she had not participated in with the singer.

Another lady, who testified as Jane, wrote that she spanked herself “really hard” till she had bruises in an effort to blackmail Mr Kelly.

On the witness stand, a number of of Mr Kelly’s accusers stated that they had been coerced into writing these messages.

“He wanted us to include letters saying that we had stolen money from him, that we had stolen watches from him, that we had been molested by family members, that we had been abused and neglected by family members and so forth,” testified one nameless witness.

Psychologist Dawn M Hughes advised jurors that letters like these gave Mr Kelly leverage if his alleged victims tried to depart or testify in opposition to him.

She added that such energy dynamics had been widespread in cults, and had the impact of “slowly sucking the oxygen out of the room and once you realise it, you can’t get out.”

Mr Kelly’s attorneys dismissed the allegations, saying Kelly and his girlfriends functioned like a “family”.

Defence witnesses denied data of Mr Kelly’s alleged crimes

Mr Kelly’s defence was swift by comparability to the prosecution’s forensic, weeks-long case.

They referred to as simply half-a-dozen witnesses, primarily former staff of the star, who stated they didn’t recognise the behaviour described by his accusers.

Among them was Larry Hood, a former Chicago police officer who labored as Mr Kelly’s safety guard for quite a few years.

Mr Hood testified that he by no means noticed the star with underage ladies and by no means witnessed him hit a lady or lock a lady in a room.

“As a police officer, I would have had to take action against that,” he advised the courtroom.

A former accountant for Mr Kelly additionally testified, saying that ladies in 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 in the star’s entourage had been by no means prevented from consuming or utilizing the rest room.

“Whenever we’d go to a restaurant, they’d sit down first, they’d order first, they got to eat first,” he stated of the star’s girlfriends. “I mean, chivalry, basically.”

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.

Under cross-examination, a number of of the witnesses admitted their careers had 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.

Regardless of the final result, the singer is dealing with a separate trial in Chicago on youngster pornography and obstruction prices, along with intercourse abuse prices in Illinois and Minnesota.

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