The Prosecution Rests Its Case Against R. Kelly as Sex Trafficking Trial Nears End

The defense began introducing witnesses on Monday, starting with one of Kelly's childhood friends

The Prosecution Rests Its Case Against R. Kelly as Sex Trafficking Trial Nears End
Photo:E. Jason Wambsgans / POOL / AFP (Getty Images)

The prosecution has rested its case against R. Kelly, who faces multiple charges of trafficking and federal racketeering in the Brooklyn trial.

Over the course of the last five weeks, prosecutors have asked 45 witnesses to take the stand, according to NPR, including nearly a dozen of Kelly’s alleged victims. What emerged was a clear pattern of behavior in the witnesses’ accounts, most of which involved Kelly allegedly using his fame and his devoted inner circle of enablers to sexually abuse young girls and women.

Many of Kelly’s accusers recalled meeting him at concerts and gaining access to the singer through his entourage. One alleged victim, a woman who went by “Addie” during the trial, said security guards approached her and a friend at a 1994 concert and asked them if they wanted to meet Kelly. Once backstage, the guards escorted media reporters out of Kelly’s dressing room, leaving him alone to assault Addie and attempt to assault her friend. Addie was just 17 at the time.

Kelly allegedly lured a number of his victims with promises of helping them advance their careers in the music industry. One accuser identified only as “Jane” said she met Kelly at a music festival when she was 17, and harbored aspirations of becoming an R&B singer. After a member of Kelly’s entourage gave her the singer’s phone number she made plans to meet up with him for what she believed to be an audition. Instead, Kelly pressured her to engage in sexual activities with him and then drew her into a long-term abusive relationship, where she was required to follow strict rules created by Kelly. Another accuser called “Anna” said she similarly met Kelly at a concert in 2016 and soon after found herself consumed by a controlling relationship with the singer. In yet another instance, Kelly allegedly invited a 17-year-old teen to his studio in Chicago, where prosecutors say he “propositioned and had sexual contact with him while he was still underage” after asking him about what he was willing to do to launch his career in the music industry.

The defense began introducing their own witnesses on Monday, starting with a former Chicago police officer and childhood friend of Kelly who said he’d never seen him behave inappropriately with women or girls. “As a police officer, I would have had to take action against that,” the witness, Larry Hood, said on the stand. “I never had to take any action. I was never made aware of any wrongdoing.”

Hood did say, however, that he was present when Kelly first met the singer Aaliyah, whom he married illegally when she was 15. Hood said it was only later that he learned Aaliyah’s age.

The prosecution’s case was one horrifying allegation after another, resulting in news coverage that kept the singer in the media continuously for over a month. In attempts to rebut that portrayal of their client, Kelly’s defense lawyers will reportedly aim to feature witnesses who will testify to Kelly being a sweet boyfriend who only had consensual encounters with his romantic and sexual partners.

“Whenever we’d go to a restaurant, they’d sit down first, they’d order first, they got to eat first,” Hood said of Kelly’s girlfriends. “I mean, chivalry, basically.”

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