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NEW YORK – R. Kelly’s fate on Friday lay in the hands of a Brooklyn jury, which began deliberating whether to convict or acquit the R&B superstar on sex trafficking charges.
Jury deliberations of seven men and five women began around 1:40 p.m. EDT after a federal prosecutor concluded his final remarks and United States District Judge Ann Donnelly briefed jurors on the law.
Kelly, 54, was haunted by sexual abuse allegations for much of his career before being indicted in New York on nine criminal charges, including a large racketeering count.
Prosecutors have tried to portray Kelly as a hot-tempered and violent predator who used his fame and charisma to lure underage women and girls into his orbit, where he would subject them to physical and sexual abuse, including unwanted sexual intercourse. .
Several accusers testified that Kelly forced them to abide by strict rules or else they would face punishment and wrote “apology letters” designed to absolve him of guilt.
Kelly has pleaded not guilty. His attorneys have tried to portray his accusers as profiteering liars by denigrating the singer out of spite, because their relationships didn’t work out or Kelly wasn’t a stepping stone to their careers.
During his closing argument Thursday, Kelly’s attorney, Deveraux Cannick, invoked civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. urging jurors to muster the courage to treat Kelly fairly, as he said Kelly would. he did to those around him, “like gold,” Cannick said.
In her rebuttal, Assistant United States Attorney Nadia Shihata rejected the defense’s suggestion that Kelly’s accusers were “groupies” or “gold diggers.”
He also said that topping the music charts and traveling the world did not give Kelly a license to break the law.
“Throughout this trial, you’ve seen how the defendant is basically a control freak,” Shihata said. “The accused is not the victim here.”
Kelly’s trial began on August 18. He did not testify in his own defense, which is his right.
Even if acquitted, Kelly still faces federal charges in Chicago for child pornography and obstruction, and state charges in Illinois and Minnesota.