NEW YORK — Prosecutors on Monday rested their case against R&B superstar R. Kelly after a month of testimony from victims and employees as part of his sex trafficking trial in Brooklyn federal court.
The sprawling racketeering trial — which alleges Kelly ran an enterprise that trafficked women and girls for illegal sex over more than a quarter-century — saw more than 10 accusers take the stand, along with dozens of other witnesses, painting a pattern of abuse that the singer meted out with stunning consistency.
Though the women varied in their experiences with Kelly, 54, they described a charismatic but controlling celebrity who often targeted younger women at shows, sometimes forcing himself on them then and there.
“He was either very nice, charming and jovial, or he was very controlling and intimidating,” said one accuser, Stephanie, who claims she was sexually abused by Kelly when she was 17 in the late 1990s. “He could put the fear of God in me.”
Stephanie said that Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, even compared his sexual preferences to those of notorious rock star Jerry Lee Lewis, who at age 22 notoriously married his 13-year-old cousin, derailing his career for a time.
Kelly’s methods became repetitive over the decades, the women testified. He made all his girlfriends call him “Daddy” and controlled how they dressed, when they could use the bathroom or eat, how they could interact with men, and whether they could leave the rooms he kept them inside his houses or hotels on the road.
They were required to watch him play basketball and many were coerced into writing “collateral” letters that falsely claimed they had stolen money or jewelry from Kelly or had been sexually assaulted by family members, according to their testimony.
Kelly, who was acquitted at trial of child pornography charges in Chicago in 2008, was obsessed with recording his sexual acts with partners, often without asking for permission, witnesses said.
“He would record us. ... Every time we had sex he would record it,” said one victim who goes by Jane.
In the first video he recorded with Jane she was just 17 and Kelly made her crawl back and forth, then recorded them having sexual intercourse, she said.