Prosecution Rests, Defense Case Begins

Kelly in 2019.
Photograph: E. Jason Wambsgans-Pool/Getty Photos

The prosecution in R. Kelly’s Brooklyn federal courtroom trial rested Monday morning, bringing these proceedings nearer to a conclusion as they enter the sixth week. Kelly faces one racketeering rely, and eight Mann Act counts. The Mann Act counts relate to Kelly’s alleged shuttling of victims throughout state traces for illicit intercourse acts.

Prosecutors have described Kelly as a “predator, a person who for many years used his fame, his reputation, and a community of individuals at his disposal to focus on, groom, and exploit ladies, boys, and younger ladies for his personal sexual gratification.” They contend that this abuse was not only a collection of horrendous incidents, however slightly, carried out as an orchestrated legal enterprise — therefore the racketeering cost.

They used particular allegations of sexual misconduct — from luring minors to psychological torment that saved them below his management — to make their racketeering case. They’ve contended that Kelly and his clique had a “frequent goal of reaching the targets of the Enterprise” to help his music and private model whereas attractive victims into illegal sexual exercise.

Federal prosecutors referred to as 45 witnesses to make their case. Eleven of those witnesses had been Kelly’s accusers; their allegations included sexual abuse and misconduct, with some accusing him of each.

Eight of those witnesses had been former workers. A number of described how Kelly used his workers to fulfill women and girls, shuttle them round, and allegedly preserve them in a state of isolation. And a number of other described misgivings about Kelly’s therapy of his girlfriends, and their suspicion of misconduct.

Their last witness, psychologist Daybreak Hughes, testified Friday afternoon and Monday morning, to elucidate that victims of home and sexual violence might stay with and return to their abusers — and that going again doesn’t negate victimhood. Hughes’s testimony was meant to handle the potential “why did they keep in the event that they didn’t wish to?” query, which jurors might surprise.

Witnesses previous Hughes final week reiterated what prior ones stated, testifying to Kelly’s dramatic highs and lows, describing him as an terrible employer and an offended particular person. Previous to Hughes’s testimony, certainly one of Kelly’s former assistants, Cheryl Mack, stated that he threatened her so she would help him in a lawsuit filed by an accuser, warning: “Usually, in these conditions, individuals come up lacking.”

Aliciette Mayweather, additionally a former Kelly assistant, testified final week. Mayweather’s testimony revealed that she expressed concern about certainly one of his girlfriends, Jane, in a textual content to a different worker. “When she will get to Florida, she ought to run and by no means come again,” the message stated. “One thing is absolutely unusual as to the therapy of the toddler…” (Aliciette Mayweather’s twin sister, Suzette Mayweather, additionally labored as Kelly’s assistant. Throughout Suzette’s testimony a number of weeks in the past, she described him as “like a brother,” however admitted considering that Jane “seemed younger” to her.)

Diana Copeland, who had additionally labored as an assistant for Kelly, additionally took the stand final week. Copeland’s title got here up repeatedly all through the trial, with witnesses saying that she coordinated journey for Kelly’s feminine company–and saved a watch on them. She testified that Kelly’s girlfriends didn’t freely roam his houses. Copeland stated she was “fined” — that’s, her pay was withheld — when she couldn’t discover a “actually uncommon pet” Kelly had demanded.

One other witness final week, Angela, testified that Kelly abused her when she was 14 or 15 years outdated — and that she noticed him sexually abuse Aaliyah on a tour bus when the now-deceased singer was 13 or 14. “I noticed Robert and Aaliyah in a sexual state of affairs. It appeared that he had his head in between her legs and was giving her oral intercourse,” Angela testified of the alleged incident, which she stated occurred in 1992 or 1993. 

Alex, the second male accuser to publicly make allegations in opposition to Kelly, took the stand as nicely. Alex claimed to have met Kelly in 2007, when he was 16. Alex’s good friend on the time, Louis, launched him to Kelly. (Louis was the primary man to come back ahead publicly with sexual misconduct allegations in opposition to Kelly; he claims this abuse began at age 17.)  Alex, who stated he had his first sexual encounter with Kelly at age 20, claimed he was pressured into undesirable sexual exercise.

The prosecution additionally performed recordings on Wednesday, however they had been offered solely to jurors and events within the case. Neither the media nor the general public watching Kelly’s trial in a viewing room might see or hear any of it. A courtroom doc filed Tuesday revealed that prosecutors deliberate on presenting recordings that “present the defendant bodily and verbally abusing and threatening females.” However it stays unknown what precisely jurors heard or noticed. Kelly didn’t use his headphones whereas these recordings had been offered, which might have allowed him to listen to them.

A lady from certainly one of these recordings, referred to as “Jane Doe #20” in courtroom filings, was going to take the stand, however prosecutors modified their thoughts due to her emotional state. They stated that “after the federal government performed the audio recording for Jane Doe #20 and Jane Doe #20 traveled to New York to arrange for her testimony, she began to have panic assaults and appeared to have an emotional breakdown. For the sake of her psychological well being, the federal government suggested Jane Doe #20 that it might not name her as a witness on the trial.”

The conclusion of prosecutors’ case didn’t have the jaw-dropping energy of their first few weeks. It’s unclear how jurors reacted to witnesses and proof that corroborated what many, many different witnesses had already stated, because the press is relegated to a viewing room, the place proceedings are displayed on two 52-inch TV screens.

The one factor that’s actually seen on these screens are Kelly’s profile, and two of his attorneys’ profiles. Everybody else’s head and face are the scale of quarters. (Vulture measured.) The one glimpse of jurors is when the digital camera catches them shuffling into the courtroom. Jurors might have appeared riveted or satisfied, or bored, by this week’s proceedings. The tail-end of prosecutors’ case might have proved pivotal for them, or it might have been damaging. The jurors, who at the moment are about about enter their sixth week of testimony, could be exhausted at this level. A juror might need dozed off at some juncture, which occurs even within the highest profile trials. There isn’t a sense of how any of this can land.

One other key unknown issue is how the jury interpreted Copeland’s cross-examination. Kelly’s lead lawyer, Devereaux Cannick, requested Copeland whether or not doorways at Kelly’s house might lock from the skin — an essential query, contemplating how some accusers stated they felt compelled to remain. “No, they didn’t,” Copeland stated. The protection additionally tried to make use of Copeland’s cross-examination to undermine claims that Kelly ran a legal enterprise. Copeland, who give up her job and returned many instances, stated she did so “as a result of I felt like he didn’t have reliable individuals round him. Robert didn’t have management over his financial institution accounts. He didn’t even know his personal social safety quantity. He had no management over that, he had no thought the place his royalties had been going. That was an enormous downside.”

The R&B singer’s protection is now starting its case. They plan on presumably having not less than six witnesses. Kelly’s protection might take a number of days.

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