- R. Kelly’s defense team rested their case Wednesday in the singer’s sex crimes trial.
- The defense called four witnesses over the course of three days of testimony.
- Former employees and associates of Kelly’s told the jury they never saw Kelly control or abuse the women he was having sex with.
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After several former employees and associates of R. Kelly – including an aspiring musician, a former Chicago police officer, and an accountant – told the jury that they never saw Kelly control or abuse his girlfriends, the singer’s defense team rested its case Wednesday.
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have accused the singer of sexually abusing more than 20 girls, women, and men, many of them when they were teenagers, and of directing his employees to procure partners for sex in what amounted to a criminal enterprise. Kelly has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him.
The defense case, which lasted three days, followed 19 days of testimony from prosecution witnesses. The government’s case included testimony from 11 accusers who had sexual relationships with the R&B star, his former employees, and investigators.
Jurors heard from prosecution witnesses that Kelly had an explosive temper, and that he maintained strict control over the many young women he was having sex with, including requiring them to get permission to use the bathroom. Some accusers said they were left in rooms for days, or alleged that Kelly physically abused them.
The defense attempted to undo that narrative by calling witnesses who said they spent significant tine with Kelly but never saw him mistreat the women in his orbit.
One man, an aspiring artist who goes by “DA-NI,” said he spent 15 years with Kelly at his homes and on tour, while he attempted to collaborate with the singer and learn about the music business. DA-NI, whose real name is Dhanai Ramnanan, wasn’t on Kelly’s payroll. He described his place at Kelly’s side only as “to observe, to learn, and to become.”
He told the jury that he saw Kelly’s girlfriends come and go, but didn’t see the singer tell them how to behave. At dinners out, the women were allowed to order first, Ramnanan said, describing it as “chivalry, basically.”
A former Chicago cop said he never saw Kelly be inappropriate with Aaliyah
Another witness, Larry Hood, told the jury he became friends with Kelly in grammar school and that they remained close once the singer’s career took off. In the early days, Hood said he provided security for Kelly while he was singing in subway stations. When Kelly became famous and Hood was working as a Chicago police officer, the singer brought him on to work security at night.
Hood also recruited other active duty Chicago police officers to help Kelly out when needed, he said.
Hood also was with Kelly on the day he met Aaliyah for the first time, he testified, and saw them together as they collaborated over the next few years. He said he never saw Kelly be inappropriate with Aaliyah when she was underage.
He also said he never saw Kelly strike a woman, or lock someone alone in a room.
“If I was ever to be made aware of a woman being locked in a room, as a police officer I would have had to take some action,” he said.
On cross examination, Hood said he left the Chicago Police Department in 2007 after pleading guilty to felony forgery.
The defense also called a former runner and audio engineer for Kelly to testify, as well as a man who worked as Kelly’s accountant until shortly before the singer’s 2019 arrest. These witnesses also said they never saw Kelly abuse anyone.
The prosecution showed the witnesses had reason to remain loyal to Kelly
On cross examination, prosecutors made an effort to show that these witnesses weren’t with Kelly and his girlfriends at all times. They also got the witnesses to acknowledge reasons that they might still be loyal to Kelly.
Ramnanan, for example, uses Kelly to promote his own music.
The accountant, John Holder, was billing Kelly up to $US900 ($AU1,244) per day before the singer’s arrest.
Audio engineer Jeff Meeks’ only successes in his own music career were tied to Kelly.
Meeks, who was flippant in his testimony, worked for Kelly for 15 years. A prosecutor suggested during cross examination that Meeks didn’t want to see Kelly convicted.
“That’s fair,” he replied.
Closing arguments will begin Wednesday, and Judge Ann Donnelly expects to hand the case to the jury for deliberations by Thursday.