Jurors have started deliberations in R. Kelly’s federal trial, where he faces sex trafficking and racketeering charges. The jury, which consists of five women and seven men, listened to 50 witnesses over the span of 23 days. During closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Geddes told jurors that the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer used his brand and music to “target, groom and exploit girls, boys and women.”
“Over the past several weeks, you’ve learned that the defendant’s inner circle worked together to promote the defendant’s music and brand, but his inner circle also served as enablers for his criminal conduct,” she said.
However, the defense said the government allowed witnesses to lie about their involvement with Kelly. Attorney Deveraux Cannick said many of the witnesses were in consensual relationships with his client and were only trying to profit from his fame.
“A lot of people watched ‘Surviving R. Kelly,’ and unfortunately, a lot of people are now surviving off of R. Kelly,” he said.
Cannick also compared his client to Martin Luther King Jr., saying the civil rights leader led protests in the U.S. with hopes to uphold the Constitution and practice equal and fair treatment to all citizens, which he said was “all Robert is trying to do.”
Kelly is currently facing several charges, including eight counts of violations of the Mann Act, which is a sex trafficking law. Several people testified that they were victims of the disgraced singer’s abuse. Others told jurors that they saw him sexually abuse minors, including Aaliyah.
The 12 Play vocalist allegedly illegally married the late singer when she was only 15 years old during a ceremony that lasted 10 minutes and was held at a hotel in a city outside of Chicago. Kelly’s marriage to Aaliyah was one of the main focuses of the federal case.