R. Kelly Declines to Testify at Trial

Closing arguments begin in sex-trafficking trial
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 22, 2021 3:01 PM CDT
R. Kelly Declines to Testify at Trial
In this courtroom sketch, Larry Hood, former security and body guard for R. Kelly, testifies for the defense during the R. Kelly sex trafficking trial, Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, in New York.   (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)

A prosecutor began closing arguments in the R. Kelly sex trafficking trial Wednesday by telling jurors that the government had delivered on its promises to prove that the R&B singer had for years commanded close associates to help him target, groom and exploit girls, boys, and young women for his own sexual gratification. Six weeks of testimony from more than 45 witnesses and other evidence "showed he did just that," said Assistant US Attorney Elizabeth Geddes. She said Kelly got away with sexually abusing his victims by surrounding himself with enablers he managed with an iron fist. Kelly, 54, has pleaded not guilty to racketeering charges.

Before closings began, Kelly told US District Judge Ann Donnelly that he won’t take the witness stand, allowing him to avoid the risk of a potentially brutal cross-examination, the AP reports. "You don’t want to testify, correct?” Donnelly asked the R&B singer. He responded: "Yes, ma’am." The defense presentation had relied on a handful of former Kelly employees and other associates who agreed to take the stand to try to discredit allegations that he sexually abused women, girls, and boys during a 30-year musical career. Most of the defense witnesses said they never saw Kelly abuse anyone. One admitted he owed Kelly for his break in music business and wanted to see him beat the charges.

By contrast, prosecutors have called dozens of witnesses since the trial began in federal court in Brooklyn on Aug. 18. They included several female and two male accusers to support allegations that Kelly used a cadre of managers, bodyguards, and assistants to systematically recruit potential victims at his shows and at malls and fast-food restaurants where he spent time. The accusers testified that once they were in Kelly’s web, he groomed them for unwanted sex and psychological torment. A judge at a hearing Wednesday in Chicago said that a criminal case there against Kelly will remain on hold until the New York trial is over. (Read more R. Kelly stories.)

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