R Kelly is now not expected to testify at his trial

R Kelly’s defence has now begun

Elizabeth Aubrey
Tuesday 21 September 2021 19:56
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Witnesses called by the defence as R. Kelly trial continues
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R Kelly is now not expected to testify at his sex-trafficking trial in New York.

In the trial, which began back in August, Kelly is accused of sexual abuse and exploitation at the height of his fame, as well as bribery, racketeering and coercion. He has denied all the charges against him.

More than a decade has passed since Kelly was acquitted in a 2008 child pornography case in Chicago. However, many of the women allegedly abused by him came forward in the Lifetime documentary Surviving R Kelly.

The series explored how an entourage of supporters protected Kelly and silenced his alleged victims for decades, foreshadowing a federal racketeering conspiracy case that landed Kelly in jail in 2019.

Kelly’s defence began on Monday, 20 September, after a month of testimony from a series of women and men who accused Kelly of abusing them as teenagers.

Now, according to a list of witnesses provided by his lawyers, Kelly is now not expected to testify at his trial.

R Kelly pleads not guilty to a new indictment before Judge Lawrence Flood at Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago, Illinois, on 6 June 2019

At the trial’s opening last month, the court heard from the prosecution who alleged that Kelly was a “predator” who used his fame to abuse women, girls and boys.

Assistant US attorney Maria Cruz Melendez said: “This case is about a predator.”

Explaining the evidence to be given at the trial, Ms Melendez alleged that Kelly, 54, used his fame to abuse others. “What his success and popularity brought him was access, access to girls, boys and young women,” she said. “This case is not about a celebrity who likes to party a lot.”

Lawyers for Kelly have so far characterised his accusers in legal documents as “disgruntled groupies” who wanted the attention of the R&B singer, and only revealed their allegations years later.

According to reports from inside the courtroom from the trial’s opening, his lawyers said he and his accusers – identified in court as “Jane Does” – “all became like a family” and “when the relationships went sour ... these individuals became angry, resentful and even spiteful”.

Kelly’s lawyer, Nicole Blank Becker, went on to say the allegations against her client were a “mess of lies” and that there were a number of “untruths”.

The trial continues.

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