A jury resumed deliberations in New York City on Monday in the sex trafficking trial of R&B singer R. Kelly after kicking off final deliberations last Friday.
Jurors began the day by sending the judge a note asking for transcripts of testimony by two former Kelly employees and for a legal clarification.
Deliberations first began last week at a federal court in Brooklyn before the panel of seven men and five women took the weekend off. The move followed prosecutors and defense attorneys finishing closing arguments in the high-profile case last week after several days of testimony.
The 54-year-old Kelly, perhaps best known for the 1996 smash hit “I Believe I Can Fly,” has pleaded not guilty to racketeering charges accusing him of sexually abusing women, girls and boys for more than two decades.
The jury in R. Kelly’s trial resumed deliberations on Monday.
(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)
He is also charged with multiple violations of the Mann Act, which makes it illegal to transport anyone across state lines “for any immoral purpose.”
Several witnesses gave explosive testimony in the trial with most of them laying out how the artist subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were underage. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Kelly “believed the music, the fame and the celebrity meant he could do whatever he wanted,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nadia Shihata said in federal court in Brooklyn in a fiery rebuttal to the defense’s closing argument that portrayed Kelly as a victim of false accusations.
But, she added, “He’s not a genius, he’s a criminal. A predator.”
She added that his alleged victims “aren’t groupies or gold diggers. They’re human beings.”
Prosecutors say their evidence proves how Kelly, with the help of some loyal members of his entourage, used tactics from “the predator playbook” to sexually exploit his victims.
The tactics included isolating them in hotel rooms or his recording studio, subjecting them to degrading rules like making them call him “Daddy” and shooting video recordings — some seen by the jury at trial — of them having sex with him and others as a means to control them, prosecutors said.
R. Kelly is currently on trial for alleged sexual abuse.
(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)
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 Kelly’s accusers were never 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.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.