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R. Kelly told a judge Wednesday that he would not take the side of a witness in his sex trafficking trial, meaning he would avoid the risk of a potentially brutal cross-examination.

“You don’t want to testify, do you?” US District Judge Ann Connelly asked the R&B singer. He replied: “Yes, ma’am.”


lawyers had already said that Kelly is unlikely to testify on its behalf. The defense is now expected to rest its case after Wednesday, clearing the way for the commencement of closing arguments.

The Short Defense case has relied on Kelly’s former employees and other associates to try to quash allegations of sexual abuse of women, girls and boys during a 30-year music career, as highlighted by the 1996 smash hit Agreed to take the stand. I believe I can fly.”

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R. Kelly’s lawyer says singer unlikely to take stand in sex-trafficking trial

Most defense witnesses said they had never seen Kelly abuse anyone. One said that Kelly was “polite” to his girlfriends. Another admitted that he owed Kelly for his break in the music business and wanted to see him beat the case.

In contrast, prosecutors have called dozens of witnesses since the trial began in federal court in Brooklyn on August 18. They included several female and two male accusers to support allegations that Kelly used a cadre of managers, bodyguards and assistants to systematically recruit potential victims. At his shows, malls and fast-food restaurants where he stayed.

The accusers testified that once they were in Kelly’s trap, he framed them for unwanted sex and psychological suffering—mostly when they were teenagers—in episodes from the 1990s. His accounts were supported by at least one other former Kelly staff, whose own testimony suggested he was essentially paid to look the other way or to enable the recording artist.

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The 54-year-old defendant, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, has pleaded not guilty to the racketeering charges. He has also been charged with multiple violations of the Mann Act, which makes it illegal to transport anyone “for any immoral purpose” across state lines.

Kelly has vehemently denied the allegations, claiming that the accusers were groups that wanted to take advantage of her fame and fortune until the #MeToo movement turned them against her.

The media and members of the public have not actually seen the jailed Kelly in person. US District Judge Ann Donnelly barred those not directly involved in the case from the courtroom in what she called a coronavirus precaution.