R. Kelly trial nears end, as prosecutors paint portrait of predator



R. Kelly was a predator who took advantage of his fame to prey on underage girls and boys and women, a federal prosecutor said in her closing remarks Wednesday at Mr Kelly’s federal trial in New York City on Wednesday.

Mr. Kelly, once one of pop music’s brightest stars, was only able to inflict trauma on the lives of those in his orbit for decades thanks to a vast network of associates who ” served as a catalyst for his criminal conduct, ”the prosecutor said. , said Elizabeth Geddes.

These accusations have followed Mr. Kelly for decades. But now, Ms Geddes said, jurors have had the opportunity to make amends for years of neglected abusive behavior.

“For many years what happened in the accused’s world stayed in the accused’s world,” Associate US attorney Ms. Geddes told jurors at Brooklyn Federal District Court. “But not anymore.”

The summary offered a dramatic crescendo at the five-week trial, which included hours of disturbing testimony from Mr Kelly’s accusers, some of whom had never spoken publicly before. The singer, 54, has pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Ms Geddes’ pleadings, which lasted more than three hours and will continue on Thursday, illustrated the scope of the prosecution’s arguments against the singer – and the daunting challenge his defense team faced in the trial.

The racketeering case against Mr Kelly revolves around 14 underlying crimes that federal prosecutors say he committed as part of the criminal enterprise under his command. But the prosecution itself only demands that two of these crimes be proven.

On Wednesday, Ms Geddes began to build a final image of Mr Kelly as a calculated manipulator who destroyed the lives of those around him.

She characterized the singer as an unstable man whose “violent temper” led to severe physical violence against many women and girls. She told jurors that he often promises visitors fame or success in their careers, while intending to use them only for sex. And she said Mr. Kelly created a creepy control system that trapped his accusers and kept them from speaking out.

“He used lies, manipulation, threats and physical abuse to dominate his victims,” Ms. Geddes said, adding that his immense wealth and fame allowed him to “hide in plain sight”.

When the women “ran into him” and chose to go public with their allegations, Ms. Geddes said, Mr. Kelly “used his henchmen to utter threats and get revenge.”

Mr. Kelly was once revered in the R&B music arena, garnering a huge fan base in the 1990s and 2000s and becoming known for redefining his genre. But for more than two decades, Mr. Kelly has been pursued by charges of misconduct and sexual abuse.

During the height of the MeToo movement, his behavior came under scrutiny and the accusations against him spilled over to the general public in a shocking documentary.

In 2019, he was accused of being the backbone of a decades-long criminal enterprise that recruited women and girls for sex. He has been in custody for most of the time and faces nine counts of racketeering and violations of Mann’s Law, a law that prohibits sex trafficking across state lines. He also faces charges in Illinois and Minnesota.

Armed with a large blackboard that showed Mr Kelly near the center, surrounded by a network of associates, Ms Geddes said the singer’s entourage and employees played a crucial role in his misconduct, including with R&B star Aaliyah.

The singer, whom R. Kelly married when she was just 15, has featured prominently in the case – and in Ms Geddes’ arguments. Federal prosecutor reviewed trial testimony about how one of Mr. Kelly’s tour directors bribed a government employee to “protect” the singer after he came to believe that Aaliyah was pregnant of her child.

Ms Geddes said the reason for the marriage plot in 1994 was simple: he feared criminal prosecution and sought to coerce Aaliyah into having an abortion.

“We all know what the accused was thinking,” the federal prosecutor said. “No baby, no jail.”

Mr Kelly’s defense team argued that because the singer himself had not bribed the employee, the case was moot. But Ms Geddes argued that Mr Kelly was not an oblivious bystander of the marriage plot, but rather the active force driving the criminal enterprise.

“Just because one of your henchmen is doing your dirty work doesn’t make you any less responsible,” she told jurors. She added: “The behavior of the accused in matters of child sexual abuse has not changed after his marriage to Aaliyah. In fact, he didn’t skip a beat.

Mr Kelly was originally scheduled to stand trial in May 2020, but the pandemic has delayed the start date by 18 months. Amid the wait, some of the singer’s allies were accused of using arson, bribes and other intimidation tactics to silence witnesses who were due to testify.

Yet over the course of five weeks of testimony, nine women and two men spoke up and accused the singer of a host of disturbing behaviors that often included physical, sexual and emotional abuse. And a cast of 34 other witnesses – including their friends and family, the singer’s employees and one of his longtime doctors – served to bolster their accounts.

Mr Kelly’s defense team will present their final arguments to the seven men and five women on the jury on Thursday. They should focus part of their claims on the nature of the racketeering case against the singer, in an effort to cast doubt among jurors as to whether a successful music business could have functioned simultaneously as a decades-long criminal ploy. .

In their opening statements and through their cross-examinations in the case, his lawyers also questioned the credibility and motives of his accusers. The team presented the accusers’ stories as fabricated or exaggerated, emphasizing instances where they received money for their participation in documentaries or book deals.

“We believe their testimony will fall apart,” Nicole Blank Becker, one of Kelly’s four attorneys, told jurors. “There will be so many untruths being told to you, ladies and gentlemen, that even the government will not be able to untangle the mess of lies. “

U.S. District Judge Ann M. Donnelly said she expects the jury to hear the case by the end of the week.

Earlier Wednesday, Mr. Kelly declined to testify in his own defense. When the judge asked him if he intended to testify, he replied in two words: “No, ma’am.

Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Emilie Palmer contributed reports.


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