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Jury Deliberates in R. Kelly Trial

Accusers stayed for the 'lavish lifestyle,' defense says, while prosecutor calls him a predator
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 24, 2021 3:36 PM CDT
Jury Deliberates in R. Kelly Trial
R. Kelly arrives at court in 2008 in Chicago. A New York jury has begun deliberations in the case against him.   (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

(Newser) – R. Kelly's fate is now in a jury's hands, after weeks of lurid testimony in his sexual misconduct trial. A jury of seven men and five women began deliberating racketeering and sex-trafficking charges against the R&B superstar Friday, the AP reports. Prosecutors and defense attorneys finished their closing arguments this week. The 54-year-old singer is accused of running a Chicago-based criminal enterprise that recruited his accusers for unwanted sex and mental torment. The witnesses said Kelly subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were underage. He has denied any wrongdoing.

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Kelly "believed the music, the fame, and the celebrity meant he could do whatever he wanted," Assistant US Attorney Nadia Shihata said in federal court in Brooklyn in a fiery rebuttal to the defense's closing argument that portrayed Kelly, 54, as a victim of false accusations. But, she added, "He's not a genius, he's a criminal. A predator." She added that the women who say they were victims "aren't groupies or gold diggers. They're human beings." After Shihata finished, US District Judge Ann Donnelly started her final instructions for jurors.

Kelly has pleaded not guilty to racketeering charges accusing him of abusing women, girls, and boys for more than two decades. In his closing, defense attorney Deveraux Cannick told the jury that testimony by several accusers was full of lies, and that "the government let them lie." Cannick argued there was no evidence that Kelly's accusers were forced to do anything against their will. Instead, Cannick said, Kelly's girlfriends stuck around because he spoiled them with free air travel, shopping sprees, and fancy dinners—treatment that belied the predator label. "He gave them a lavish lifestyle," he said. "That’s not what a predator is supposed to do."

(Read more R. Kelly stories.)

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