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, ladies and underage women.

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

As soon as one of many world’s largest pop stars, Mr Kelly was initially arrested on these costs 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.

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 lawyer Elizabeth Geddes, including that his immense wealth and fame allowed him to “conceal 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 informed the jury.

Mr Kelly, whose full title 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 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 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 among 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 saved them in a continuing state of concern, demanding they comply with his stringent guidelines,and ordering them to name him “Daddy”. Those that disobeyed have been punished, generally with degrading sexual acts, they claimed. Two ladies accused the star of rape.

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

“You heard a few man who handled these ladies like gold,” Mr Cannick informed the jury.

One witness mentioned she was choked till she misplaced consciousness

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

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 among a number of ladies 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 informed 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 informed the courtroom.

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 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 befell “practically each two to 3 days,” she alleged.

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

“He mentioned, ‘You must look into that abortion stuff as a result of it’s essential to preserve that physique,'” she mentioned.

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

picture supply, Getty Photos
picture captionR. Kelly wrote and produced Aaliyah’s debut album, titled Age Ain’t Nothing However A Quantity

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 likely to be 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 ultimately informed 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 scenario in 1993, a yr earlier than the wedding.

The lady, who testified beneath the title 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 communicate in regards to the wedding ceremony. He solely testified on the trial beneath subpoena.

The wedding was annulled a yr after it befell. 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 usually are not 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

picture supply, Reuters
picture captionR. Kelly was as soon as the most important R&B star on the planet, with hits like Bump and Grind and I Imagine I Can Fly

A number of ladies 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, mentioned the situation grew to become so unhealthy it bought 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 exams got here again destructive, Dr McGrath famous the potential of a false destructive and mentioned he informed 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 no less than 5 instances. In that point, he mentioned he had prescribed herpes treatment “so typically 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 just isn’t life-threatening, any associated costs shouldn’t be thought of.

Two ladies 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.

On the time she was 17, and had been invited backstage to satisfy the star with a buddy. She claimed he had cleared the room earlier than assaulting her, telling the courtroom: “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 courtroom 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 inside me,” she informed 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 strategy to get there? The kidnapper paid her strategy 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 typically 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 ladies, which he would then movie.

Throughout 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 life-style”.

“It isn’t against the law to love kinky intercourse,” argued Mr Cannick, including that “some individuals similar 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 suppose individuals cannot do this anymore,” Mr Cannick mentioned. “Ho is nice, daddy is unhealthy…. The previous Vice President [Mike Pence] referred to as his spouse Mom.”

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

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

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 informed the courtroom.

Mr Navarro labored for the star between 2007 and 2009, and mentioned he was issued with a listing of “Rob’s Guidelines” – the identical phrase utilized by Ms Tempo in her testimony. Among the many most outstanding: “I wasn’t presupposed to be speaking to any of the women – the friends – who have been coming into the home,” he recalled.

Mr Navarro additionally claimed to have pushed one among Mr Kelly’s girlfriends throughout state strains, 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 informed 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 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 exhibit she was not sporting a wire.

“He may get fairly heated,” mentioned Copeland, who was Kelly’s assistant for 15 years. She informed jurors he made her cry at instances.

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

Victims have been compelled to jot 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 be aware started, “On the age of 17 I by no means had intercourse with Robert Kelly,” earlier than itemizing a sequence 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 arduous” 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 informed 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 have 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 legal professionals 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 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 quite a few 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 in opposition to that,” he informed the courtroom.

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.

“At any time when we might go to a restaurant, they’d sit down first, they’d order first, they bought 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.

Below 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 contemplate their verdict.

Whatever the consequence, the singer is dealing with a separate trial in Chicago on baby pornography and obstruction costs, along with intercourse abuse costs in Illinois and Minnesota.

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