BROOKLYN (CN) — Prosecutors rested their case on Monday in the federal trial of singer R. Kelly, more than a month after testimony began in the Eastern District of New York.
The 54-year-old whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly is charged with violating federal anti-racketeering law and the Mann Act, stemming from an alleged sex ring that operated for decades. Following opening arguments on Aug. 18, women who lived with Kelly and traveled with him on tour said the singer had strict rules, enforced by his employees, that dictated their every move — they had to wear baggy clothing, avoid eye contact or speaking with other men, and text Kelly or one of his staff when they wanted to eat or use the bathroom.
They all called him “Daddy” — and when he wasn’t around, he was to be referred to as “Mr. Kelly.” Though they all lived together with the singer, the girlfriends weren’t allowed to discuss him, or anything personal, with one another.
Female employees of Kelly’s testified that they would go out shopping with Kelly’s guests and live-in girlfriends so that they could interact with male store clerks. Assistants would book flights and hotels for Kelly’s female guests, and carry sheets of paper with his phone number to hand to women — or girls, as in the case of “Jane,” who began living and traveling with Kelly when she was 17 years old.
Jane told the court that Kelly forced her to have an abortion after he got her pregnant. She also discussed the punishments she received for breaking rules or otherwise angering the singer.
Describing how Kelly physically abused her and other girlfriends, she said he would slap and punch them as well as drag women by the hair. Kelly beat Jane using a shoe and a cord, and would regularly spank victims hard enough to leave bruises and break skin, calling it “chastising” them.
Also as a punishment, Kelly directed Jane to have sex with a man she had never met, she said — an individual Kelly called “Nephew,” who later testified at trial. He backed up the women's accounts that Kelly instructed him to have sex with them in front of the singer, who sometimes recorded the interactions.
Several other alleged victims’ testimony mirrored a similar pattern of grooming and abuse. Some described forced assault. A witness who testified as Faith accused Kelly of forcing her to give him oral sex at a music studio in Los Angeles after placing a gun nearby.
“Don’t look at it,” Kelly ordered. He then instructed Faith to undress and “moved the gun by him” while instructing her to pose and perform sex acts.
Another to testify was Sonja, who was a 21-year-old radio intern when she traveled to visit Kelly in Chicago, hoping to score an interview with the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer.
After arriving at his music studio, Sonja said she was escorted to a room that was locked from the outside, and waited two and a half days without food or water.
When she was finally given something to eat — Chinese food and a soda — Sonja said she began to feel drowsy. She she woke up to discover that Kelly had sexually assaulted her: Kelly was in the room doing up his pants, and her underwear had been removed.
A woman testifying as Addie said Kelly raped her backstage at a 1994 concert in Miami, days after Kelly married the underage singer who would become an R&B superstar in her own right, Aaliyah Houghton.