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 relating to 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 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 instances 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 bodily abuse to dominate his victims,” stated assistant US lawyer Elizabeth Geddes, including that his immense wealth and fame allowed him to “disguise 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 recreation is. They’re surviving off of R. Kelly,” Deveraux Cannick advised the jury.

Mr Kelly, whose full identify 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, a lot of which readers could 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 is just not 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 stored them in a relentless state of worry, demanding they comply with his stringent guidelines,and ordering them to name him “Daddy”. Those who disobeyed had been punished, generally 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 in search of revenge after falling out of favour with the star.

“You heard a few man who handled these girls 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 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 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 wished me to place my hair up in pigtails and costume like a woman 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 girl 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 outdated. Like Ms Pace, she alleged that the singer sought to regulate 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 happened “practically each two to a few 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 turned pregnant in 2017.

“He stated, ‘You have to look into that abortion stuff as a result of that you must hold that physique,'” 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 is perhaps 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 understand how to get her an ID,’ and that is what I did.”

One of the star’s former backing dancers later testified that she had by chance disturbed Mr Kelly and Aaliyah in a sexual scenario in 1993, a yr earlier than the marriage.

The girl, who testified beneath the identify 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 marriage 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 marriage ceremony. He solely testified at the trial beneath subpoena.

The marriage was annulled a yr after it happened. Aaliyah died in a aircraft crash in 2001.

Mr Kelly’s attorneys described a lot of the testimony relating to Aaliyah as “fluff”. The marriage and Aaliyah’s alleged being pregnant should not 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, identified solely as Jane Doe, stated the situation turned so unhealthy it received to “the level the place I could not stroll”.

She alleged the star “purposely gave me one thing 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 unfavorable, Dr McGrath famous the chance of a false unfavorable and stated he advised 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 least 5 occasions. In that point, he stated he had prescribed herpes remedy “so typically that I memorised the cellphone quantity” of the star’s native pharmacy.

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

Two girls accused R. Kelly of rape

A girl 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.

At 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 courtroom: “I simply went clean.”

Now 44, Addie stated she had waited till now to report the assault “as a result of I did not need extra victim-shaming and extra trauma at that point”.

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 awakened, she noticed the star pulling up his trousers in the nook of the room.

“It felt like one thing had been inside me,” she advised 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 technique to get there? The kidnapper paid her technique 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.

Multiple witnesses stated they had been video-taped in humiliating sexual conditions

A girl named Anna testified that the star would spank her if she broke his guidelines, and claimed that he typically videotaped the punishment on an iPad.

On one other event, he pressured 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 stated the singer as soon as pressured her to smear faeces on her face and “put it in my mouth and act like I preferred, loved 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 sufficient.”

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 staff portrayed the star’s conduct as the consequence of a “playboy life-style”.

“It’s not a criminal offense to love kinky intercourse,” argued Mr Cannick, including that “some folks 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’s nearly a criminal offense to name a person a Daddy. I suppose folks cannot do this anymore,” Mr Cannick stated. “Ho is nice, daddy is unhealthy…. The former Vice President [Mike Pence] referred to as his spouse Mother.”

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

picture supply, Reuters
picture captionMr Kelly’s former assistant Diana Copeland stated she was pressured to put in writing a false confession of theft

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

“You went into the gate, and it was like a distinct world, only a unusual 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 distinguished: “I wasn’t purported to be speaking to any of the women – the friends – who had been coming into the home,” 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 rather like you taking your girlfriend, your spouse, your husband on enterprise.”

Another assistant, Diana Copeland, confirmed that girls had been confined to their rooms inside Mr Kelly’s numerous properties, 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 might get fairly 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 pressured to put in writing letters defending the star

Five months after Mr Kelly was arrested, investigators opened a secure 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 word started, “At 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 stated she had not participated in with the singer.

Another girl, who testified as Jane, wrote that she spanked herself “actually arduous” 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 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 Dawn M Hughes advised jurors that letters like these gave Mr Kelly leverage if his alleged victims tried to depart or testify towards 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 when you realise it, you possibly can’t get out.”

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

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 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’d have needed to take motion towards that,” he advised the courtroom.

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

“Whenever we would go to a restaurant, they’d sit down first, they’d order first, they received to eat first,” he stated of the star’s girlfriends. “I imply, chivalry, mainly.”

Prosecutors tried to indicate 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 consequence, the singer is dealing with a separate trial in Chicago on little one pornography and obstruction prices, along with intercourse abuse prices in Illinois and Minnesota.

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