US

R. Kelly Trial Nears End, as Prosecutors Paint Portrait of a Predator

R. Kelly was a predator who capitalized on his fame to prey on underage women and boys and on ladies, a federal prosecutor mentioned in her closing statements at Mr. Kelly’s federal trial in New York on Wednesday.

Mr. Kelly, as soon as one of many brightest stars in pop music, was solely in a position to inflict trauma on the lives of these in his orbit for many years due to an enormous community of associates who “served as enablers for his legal conduct,” the prosecutor, Elizabeth Geddes, mentioned.

These accusations have adopted Mr. Kelly for many years. However now, Ms. Geddes mentioned, jurors had a chance to make amends for years of missed abusive habits.

“For a few years, what occurred within the defendant’s world stayed within the defendant’s world,” Ms. Geddes, an assistant U.S. legal professional, advised jurors in Federal District Court docket in Brooklyn. “However not.”

The summation provided a dramatic crescendo to the five-week trial, which has included hours of disturbing testimony from Mr. Kelly’s accusers, a few of whom had by no means spoken publicly earlier than. The singer, 54, has pleaded not responsible to all the fees.

Ms. Geddes’s closing arguments, which spanned greater than three hours and can proceed on Thursday, illustrated the expansive breadth of the prosecution’s case towards the singer — and the steep problem his protection group has confronted within the trial.

The racketeering case against Mr. Kelly is constructed round 14 underlying crimes that federal prosecutors say he dedicated as a part of the legal enterprise at his command. However the cost itself solely requires that two of these crimes be confirmed.

On Wednesday, Ms. Geddes started to assemble a remaining picture of Mr. Kelly as a calculated manipulator who destroyed the lives of these round him.

She characterised the singer as a unstable man whose “violent mood” led to harsh bodily abuse of many ladies and women. She advised jurors that he usually promised guests fame or success of their careers, whereas solely intending to make use of them for intercourse. And he or she mentioned that Mr. Kelly created a fear-inspiring system of management that entrapped his accusers and prevented them from talking out.

“He used lies, manipulation, threats and bodily abuse to dominate his victims,” Ms. Geddes mentioned, including that his immense wealth and fame allowed him to “cover in plain sight.”

When ladies “crossed him” and opted to go public with their allegations, Ms. Geddes mentioned, Mr. Kelly “used his henchmen to lodge threats and actual revenge.”

Mr. Kelly was as soon as revered within the realm of R&B music, garnering an enormous fan base by the Nineties and 2000s and changing into identified for redefining his style. However for greater than 20 years, Mr. Kelly was trailed by accusations of sexual misconduct and abuse.

On the peak of the MeToo motion, his habits fell underneath intense scrutiny, and the accusations towards him spilled into full public view in a jarring documentary.

In 2019, he was accused of serving because the kingpin of a decades-long legal enterprise that recruited ladies and women for intercourse. He has been in custody for more often than not since and faces 9 counts of racketeering and violations of the Mann Act, a legislation that bans intercourse trafficking throughout state strains. He additionally faces expenses in Illinois and Minnesota.

Armed with a big blackboard that confirmed Mr. Kelly close to the middle, surrounded by a community of associates, Ms. Geddes mentioned that the singer’s interior circle and workers performed essential roles in his misconduct — together with with the R&B star Aaliyah.

The singer, whom R. Kelly married when she was simply 15, has figured prominently within the case — and in Ms. Geddes’s arguments. The federal prosecutor revisited trial testimony about how one in every of Mr. Kelly’s tour managers bribed a authorities worker to “shield” the singer after he got here to imagine Aaliyah was pregnant along with his youngster.

Ms. Geddes mentioned the explanation for the marriage plot in 1994 was easy: He feared legal prosecution and sought to compel Aaliyah to get an abortion.

“Everyone knows what the defendant was pondering,” the federal prosector mentioned. “No child, no jail.”

Mr. Kelly’s protection group has contended that as a result of the singer himself didn’t bribe the worker, the matter is moot. However Ms. Geddes argued that Mr. Kelly was not an oblivious bystander within the marriage plot, however relatively the lively power driving the legal enterprise.

“Simply because you could have one in every of your henchmen do your soiled work doesn’t make you any much less accountable,” she advised jurors. She added: “The defendant’s sample of sexual abuse of minors didn’t change after he wed Aaliyah. In truth, it didn’t skip a beat.”

Mr. Kelly was initially set to face trial in Could 2020, however the pandemic delayed the beginning date for 18 months. Amid the wait, a few of the singer’s allies have been accused of utilizing arson, bribery and different intimidation techniques to silence witnesses who have been anticipated to testify.

Nonetheless, over 5 weeks of testimony, 9 ladies and two males took the stand and accused the singer of a bunch of disturbing habits that usually included bodily, sexual and emotional abuse. And a supporting solid of 34 different witnesses — together with their family and friends, the singer’s workers and one in every of his longtime medical doctors — served to bolster their accounts.

Mr. Kelly’s protection group will make its remaining arguments to the seven males and 5 ladies of the jury on Thursday. They’re anticipated to focus a portion of their assertions across the nature of the racketeering case towards the singer, aiming to spur doubt amongst jurors over whether or not a profitable music enterprise might have concurrently functioned as a decades-long legal scheme.

Throughout their opening statements and throughout their cross-examinations within the case, his legal professionals have additionally challenged the credibility and motivations of his accusers. The group has solid the accusers’ tales as manufactured or exaggerated, drawing emphasis to situations once they had obtained cash for his or her participation in documentaries or e-book offers.

“We imagine their testimony will crumble,” Nicole Clean Becker, one in every of Mr. Kelly’s 4 legal professionals, advised jurors. “There shall be so many untruths advised to you, girls and gents, that even the federal government received’t be capable of untangle the mess of lies.”

U.S. District Choose Ann M. Donnelly has mentioned that she expects the jury to have the case by the end of the week.

Earlier on Wednesday, Mr. Kelly declined to testify in his personal protection. When the decide requested if he supposed to take the stand, he responded with two phrases: “No, ma’am.”

Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Emily Palmer contributed reporting.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/22/nyregion/r-kelly-trial-prosecutors.html | R. Kelly Trial Nears Finish, as Prosecutors Paint Portrait of a Predator

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