R. Kelly’s Defense Opens as Singer’s Trial Nears Its End

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A former Chicago police officer said he had never seen Mr Kelly with underage girls, but added that he was “not checking ID in the studio.”

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First, a defense witness taking the stand at the trial of R&B superstar R Kelly, who has faced sexual misconduct allegations for years, said Monday that he never saw the singer around underage girls. saw.

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But the witness, Larry Hood, Mr. Kelly’s childhood friend and a former Chicago police officer, admitted to having sex with Mr. Kelly when Mr. Kelly first met R&B singer Aaliyah. Was. She was 13 or 14 years old.

The defense’s case began Monday after five weeks of testimony involving 11 accusers, six of whom testified that they were underage when their sex with the singer began.

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Prosecutors have sought to prove that the singer’s public image as a charming songwriter and charismatic artist served to disguise and enable a stalker who imposed suffocation rules on the women in his class and those rules. Struck when it broke.

The women described being raped, imprisoned, drugged and forced into abortion by Mr. Kelly and those under him. A male accuser, who said he was groomed by Mr Kelly from the age of 17, testified that he was “brainwashed” by the singer.

Mr Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, has been charged with one count of racketeering and eight violations of an anti-sex-trafficking law known as the Man Act, which allows individuals to cross state borders for the purpose of sex. Prohibits crossing. Mr Kelly, who has pleaded not guilty to all charges, also faces a federal trial in Chicago on child pornography and obstruction charges, in addition to state charges in Illinois and Minnesota.

While cross-examining prosecution witnesses, Mr. Kelly’s four-attorney defense team often tried to cast his accusers as jealous fans, who became enraged when the singer fell out of favor. But as his defense began on Monday, his lawyers offered two witnesses who said he had never seen anything disturbing during his years of close contact with Mr.

Mr Hood, who left the police force in good standing in 2007, despite being convicted of forgerysaid that he had no reason to believe that Mr Kelly behaved inappropriately against women or girls.

“As a police officer, I have to take action against him,” said Mr. Hood. “I’ve never had to take any action. I’ve never been told of any wrongdoing.”

But during the prosecutors’ cross-examination, Mr. Hood described a world in which Mr. Kelly found himself surrounded by girls – including Aaliyah and a group of “little Aaliyah’s little hype girls”. One of them, a woman identified in court as Angela, told the jury last week that she began having sex with Mr. Kelly as a teenager and once had a sexual act on Aaliyah around 1993. Seen doing it, making Aaliya the youngest girl, making Mr. Kelly the youngest. Kelly is accused of sexual abuse.

“I wasn’t checking ID in the studio,” said Mr. Hood, adding that it was only “later in life” that he learned of his friend’s marriage to 15-year-old Aaliyah in August 1994.

Another defense witness, Dhanai Ramanan, described himself as an aspiring singer who worked in the studio with Mr Kelly for nearly 15 years. He described Mr Kelly as “like a mentor and a good friend to me”, and said that he had never seen Mr Kelly verbally abuse or assault a woman, nor eat her. or was banned from using the restroom – all charges made during the first five weeks of the trial.

“Whenever we went to a restaurant, they would sit first, they would order first, they would get food first,” he said of Mr. Kelly’s girlfriend. “I mean, chivalry, basically.”

As the trial nears its end – Judge N.M. Donnelly said he expects the jury to begin deliberations by the end of the week – Mr Kelly’s lawyers also presented a list of several additional witnesses they can call, including an investigator, an accountant, and an attorney. Friend of Jerhonda Pace, Mr Kelly’s first accuser in the trial. Mr. Kelly was not on the list.

Testifying in his defense would represent a potentially dangerous tactic for Mr. Kelly. After facing new legal scrutiny in 2019, Mr. Kelly lost his cool in a widely viewed interview with “CBS This Morning”‘s Gayle King, jumped out of his chair and pounded his chest at the camera .

During the examination of witnesses, Mr. Kelly’s defense team has focused on challenging the grounds of the racketeering allegation himself, arguing that the prosecution’s portrayal of a vast illegal organization is misguided, and that the singer is a musical. Runs nothing but business. He also aimed to convince the jurors that his accusers had consensual sex with him and later fabricated his own accounts of abuse and misconduct, with minor variations in aspects of his stories over time and some over the years. Noticed the desire to have a conversation with Mr. Kelly. .

The defense will aim to advance that portrayal, which portrayed Mr Kelly as an eclectic romantic partner who treated the women around him like family and was blinded by their accusations.

The image is in contrast to the one depicted during the Sarkar case, which is built around the accounts of five women: Jerhonda Pace, Stephanie, Faith, Sonja and a woman who testified under a pseudonym. Alia, who died in a plane crash two decades earlier, and her brief illicit marriage to Mr Kelly in 1994 are also at the center of the government’s case. The charges would usually be too old to be prosecuted, but the allegation of racketeering gives the government more flexibility.

Against the backdrop of the MeToo movement, the trial is the first time accusers have taken a stand against Mr. And at a crucial moment for the movement, it is also the first time that most of the accusers in such a high-profile case are black women.

Don M. Hughes, an expert in clinical and forensic psychology who testified last week and Monday as the prosecution’s final witness, aiming to provide jurors with pieces and fragments of witnesses’ accounts with a broader understanding of the long-term effects of abuse It is intended to help link and how it may “rumble together” the memories of the accusers – making them act in ways that may later appear insidious.

Recalling the biblical story of David and Goliath, Ms Hughes said speaking out against a figure like Mr Kelly was made more difficult by their wealth of resources and a protective community protecting them from criticism. Now, that community is at the center of the case against Mr. Kelly.

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