During closing statements on Wednesday, federal prosecutor Elizabeth Geddes drove home the point that R. Kelly used his fame to take advantage of underaged girls and boys, as well as young women, characterizing the R&B singer as a predator.
In the New York trial that began Aug. 18, Kelly faces federal counts of human trafficking, racketeering, child pornography, kidnapping and forced labor. The former music star has denied all allegations against him, and has pleaded not guilty. During the trial, the prosecution sought to prove that not only is Kelly a predator, but his team has long enabled his behavior, according to the New York Times.
Geddes addressed the jurors in her closing statement, telling them that they have the opportunity to bring justice to those who have been affected by Kelly’s years of sexual misconduct.
“For many years, what happened in the defendant’s world stayed in the defendant’s world,” Geddes said, according to the Times. “But no longer.”
Over the course of the five-week trial, the prosecution brought nine women and two men to the stand to tell their accounts of Kelly’s sexual, physical and mental abuse, along with 34 witnesses, including former employees of Kelly. Kelly will not take the stand, per the Times.
According to the Associated Press, accusers testified that Kelly allegedly locked a radio intern in a room where she passed out and he sexually assaulted her, videotaped a woman wiping feces on her face as punishment for not following his rules and knowingly gave multiple people herpes without informing them of his STD status.
In one of the most explosive moments during testimony, a witness alleged that they had seen Kelly sexually abusing late R&B star Aaliyah in 1993, when she was only 13 or 14, according to the AP. That same witness also testified that Kelly began to sexually abuse her when she was 15. Part of the prosecution’s evidence included a fake marriage license that they alleged Kelly and his team used to wed the two when Kelly came to believe he had impregnated her, the AP stated. The faked license claimed that Aaliyah was 18, when in reality she was only 15. The prosecution alleged that Kelly wanted the sham marriage so that he could make Aaliyah get an abortion, out of fear of criminal consequences, according to the Times.
“We all know what the defendant was thinking,” Geddes said, according to the Times. “No baby, no jail.”
Geddes’ closing statement lasted more than three hours, according to the Times, also detailing what she called Kelly’s “violent temper” and tendency to use the promise of fame to take advantage of others sexually. Kelly would then prevent his accusers from speaking out further by having his team threaten them, Geddes said, according to the Times.
“He used lies, manipulation, threats and physical abuse to dominate his victims,” Geddes said, according to the Times.
“Just because you have one of your henchmen do your dirty work doesn’t make you any less responsible,” Geddes continued, according to the Times. “The defendant’s pattern of sexual abuse of minors didn’t change after he wed Aaliyah. In fact, it didn’t skip a beat.”
The defense presented four character witnesses, including former employees, an audio engineer and an accountant, the latter of whom testified about the structure of Kelly’s company, RSK, as demonstrated by an illustration of an octopus and its tentacles.
Kelly’s defense team will give their closing arguments on Thursday, and the Times reports that they are expected to focus on disproving the racketeering charges, as well as casting doubt upon the credibility of the accusers.
As Court TV noted in its reporting on the trial, the jury could begin deliberations on the case as soon as Thursday.
This is the first of several cases against R. Kelly, as he faces charges in several states, including Illinois and Minnesota. It’s the latest in a string of court procedures propelled by hit documentaries. On Sept. 17, Robert Durst, the New York real estate heir and subject of HBO’s 2015 docuseries “The Jinx,” was convicted of murdering his friend, Susan Berman, more than 20 years ago. On Sept. 29, Britney Spears faces a California judge in the matter of her 13-year-long conservatorship, the validity of which was questioned starkly in the New York Times documentary “Framing Britney Spears.” Interest in Kelly’s case was revived in large part due to the Lifetime series “Surviving R. Kelly.”