“Lies, manipulation, threats, physical assault”: the indictment at the trial in New York of the former American R&B star R. Kelly on Wednesday portrayed the lead singer of a “system” that would have allowed him for 25 years of sexually exploiting young women, including minors.
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Brooklyn Federal Court Assistant Prosecutor Elizabeth Geddes has launched her final indictment against the 54-year-old former singer, tried since August 18 for extortion, sexual exploitation of a minor, kidnapping, bribery and forced labor, spanning 1994 to 2018.
R. Kelly – known worldwide for his hit “I believe I can fly” and winner in 1998 of three Grammy Awards – is accused of running a network that recruited and prepared young girls to have sex with him, locking them up in their hotel rooms when he was on tour, asking them to wear loose clothes when they weren’t with him, to “keep their heads down” and to call him “daddy”.
The singer, in pre-trial detention, described throughout the trial as a sexual “predator”, is accused of having abused several women, including minors.
If found guilty on all charges, he faces ten years in life in prison. R. Kelly pleads not guilty to all of the charges against him.
The prosecutor addressed the jury – seven men and five women – Wednesday to repeat that the accused had built a sophisticated “system” to approach young girls and used his entourage, bodyguards, drivers, lawyers, accountants to protect themselves, in particular by using threats.
The once-all-powerful fallen R&B artist “used his money and notoriety to cover up his crimes,” Geddes accused, saying that without the help of those around him, Robert Kelly “could not have committed his crimes over nearly three decades ”.
The prosecutor’s indictment is expected to continue Thursday before the jury begins to deliberate.
R. Kelly chose to remain silent during the trial, but his lawyers called five witnesses, including a childhood friend, who said they had never seen the manifestation of the crimes of which he is accused.
The prosecution called 45 prosecution witnesses, including female victims, some minors at the time claiming that they had been raped, beaten, drugged, locked up and sometimes prevented from eating or going to the toilet.