R. Kelly's Defense Team Now Has a Tall Challenge

Prosecution rests its case after calling dozens of witnesses who described abuse
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 20, 2021 2:09 PM CDT
R. Kelly's Defense Team Now Has a Tall Challenge
A 2008 photo of R. Kelly.   (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

(Newser) – Prosecutors at the R. Kelly sex trafficking trial ended their case Monday after calling dozens of witnesses over the past month who detailed the government’s sweeping allegations against the singer in lurid detail. Several women and two men who were in the 54-year-old Kelly's orbit testified about how he groomed them for unwanted sex and psychologically tormented them—mostly when they were teenagers—in episodes dating to the 1990s, per the AP. Their accounts were backed at least in part by former Kelly employees whose own testimony suggested they were essentially paid off to look the other way or actively enable him.

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The defense will now begin calling former Kelly employees in an effort to cast doubt on some of the accusers' accounts. Kelly's lawyers must find ways to counter testimony from accusers alleging an array of perverse misconduct spanning three decades. Among the troubling tableaus—his entourage locking a radio station intern in a room where he sexually assaulted her while she was passed out, and witnesses claiming that he gave them herpes without disclosing he had an STD. A large chunk of the testimony focused on an infamous scandal involving his youngest and most famous alleged victim: R&B phenom Aaliyah. One of the final witnesses described seeing Kelly sexually abusing Aaliyah around 1993, when Aaliyah was only 13 or 14. (Read more R. Kelly stories.)

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