R Kelly allegedly had a set of rules for for the women and girls he is accused of sexually abusing, including requiring them to ask for permission to use the bathroom, a court heard
R Kelly had a set of rules for the women and girls he allegedly sexually abused, a court has heard.
The I Believe I Can Fly singer, 54, is facing a slew of charges, including racketeering based on sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping, forced labor, and violations of the Mann Act, which barred the transport of people across state lines for sex.
The indictment describes Kelly’s alleged dealings with six women and girls, including the late singer Aaliyah, who was 15 when she married Kelly.
On the opening day of his trial in New York on Wednesday prosecutors told the jury that Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, used an entourage of managers, bodyguards and others to recruit victims, sometimes at concerts.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez said Kelly would require victims to get his permission before doing virtually anything, including going to the bathroom, and blackmail them by threatening to release self-incriminating letters he forced them to write if they fled.
He is also claimed to have insisted on his victims calling him “Daddy” and prosecutors said he “dominated and controlled” the victims “physically, sexually and psychologically”.
Melendez said Kelly used “lies, manipulation, threats and physical abuse” to dominate his victims, and often filmed their sexual encounters.
“This case is about a predator,” Melendez said in her opening statement. “This case is not about a celebrity who likes to party a lot.”
But Kelly’s lawyer Nicole Blank Becker said the government’s case had “gaps,” and that Kelly’s accusers were former fans who turned on him because they were unhappy their relationships didn’t work out.
“They knew exactly what they were getting into,” Becker said. “The relationships Mr. Kelly had with the various Jane Does were consenting relationships.”
Kelly, has pleaded not guilty to a nine-count indictment that include accusations of bribery and extortion.
He has strongly denied wrongdoing.
Some female accusers and at least one male accuser are expected to testify for the government.
Melendez said one accuser, Sonya, was sexually abused nearly two decades ago at Kelly’s studio in Chicago, where she hoped to interview him for a radio station where she worked.
The prosecutor said Sonya was locked in a room at the studio for three days, and lost consciousness soon after being let out and fed.
When she woke up Sonya realised she had been sexually assaulted, Melendez said.
The six alleged victims in the indictment, four of whom were underage, are identified as Jane Does No. 1 through No. 6.
Prosecutors will also try to show that Kelly bribed an Illinois official in 1994 to obtain fake identification for Aaliyah, who is Jane Doe No. 1, and whose marriage license showed her age as 18, so that they could marry.
According to prosecutors, Kelly believed he had impregnated Aaliyah, who died in a 2001 plane crash, and hoped a marriage would keep her from having to testify against him.
The trial continues.