- Jurors are expected to begin deliberating Friday in R. Kelly’s federal sex crimes trial in New York.
- He is charged with running an organization that helped him groom and recruit victims for sexual abuse.
- The jury is currently partially sequestered and will review the evidence before returning its verdict.
R. Kelly’s federal sex-crimes trial will get underway Friday.
Five women and seven men will decide if Kelly is guilty of operating an enterprise that helped him recruit, groom, and sexually abuse boys, girls and women over a period of more than 20 years.
Friday morning saw a judge begin to give instructions to the jury regarding their roles in the case. The jury was presented with a lot of evidence and testimony. However, the judge instructed them to only agree that Kelly committed two offenses to convict Kelly of racketeering. This is a common statute used to prosecute organized criminals and mobsters.
Most of Kelly’s allegations fall under one racketeering charge. There are 14 charges against Kelly for racketeering.
Kelly, who is actually Robert Sylvester Kelly was also indicted for eight counts of violating Mann Act. This statute makes it illegal to bring women or girls across state borders for the purpose of performing illegal sex acts.
The singer has pleaded guilty to not all charges.
A lengthy trial heads to its conclusion
Jurors heard testimony from 50 witnesses over the course of five weeks at the Brooklyn Federal Court Building.
Prosecutors summoned 11 witnesses to the stand along with many former employees, associates and experts to build a case against the singer’s predatory behavior.
Jury instructions began following a rebuttal from Assistant US Attorney Nadia Shihata. She encouraged jurors not to believe the testimony of accusers during the trial and stated that the prosecution had filed hundreds of pieces evidence and other witnesses which all supported their claims.
“The defendant’s victims aren’t groupies or gold-diggers,” Shihata said. “They’re human beings. They’re daughters, sisters, some of them are now mothers. And their lives matter.”
Kelly is accused of having an Illinois official bribe Kelly to get a fake Illinois ID for Aaliyah at 15 years old. This was part of the Racketeering & Mann Act case. Kelly claimed that he was a father to Aaliyah, according to witnesses. He also wanted her to get an abortion.
In addition to transporting his young victims — many of them only teenagers at the time — across state lines for sex, prosecutors also allege that Kelly knowingly had sex with several girls and young women without disclosing his positive herpes diagnosis. His sexual partners all testified that they had contracted the incurable disease from him during their relationships.
He was also accused of having an explosive temper and being physically and mentally abusive towards them when they didn’t follow his strict rules.
Five witnesses knew Kelly and claimed they never saw him abuse or control women. The defense case lasted just three days.
Prosecutors say Kelly ran an enterprise
In the prosecution’s closing argument, Assistant US Attorney Elizabeth Geddes told jurors they didn’t need to believe that every person in Kelly’s entourage had criminal intent, or even liked Kelly’s behavior, in order to find he ran an enterprise. She stated that Kelly was made more powerful by the existence of this group, which helped him to get away with his crimes as long as possible.
“The law recognizes that when someone commits a crime as part of a group, he’s more powerful, more dangerous,” Geddes said. “Put simply, racketeering means that the defendant was part of a group of people who were working toward a common goal.”
In closing arguments for the defense, Kelly’s attorney, Deveraux Cannick, argued that the singer’s relationships with his many “girlfriends” were consensual and that the accusers were all liars who sought to profit from their stories.
“His label marketed him as a sex symbol, a playboy. So he started living that lifestyle,” Cannick spoke Thursday. “It’s a lifestyle, not a crime.”
Shihata said Cannick’s arguments amounted to victim-blaming, and that he wanted the jury to give Kelly “a pass” because of his celebrity.
“Writing hit songs and performing for audiences on stage doesn’t give you the license to commit crimes,” She told jurors on Friday.
The jury, partially sequestered at the moment, will be reviewing trial evidence and transcripts of testimony prior to returning its verdict.