By MICHAEL TARM
AP Legal Affairs Writer
CHICAGO (AP) — R. Kelly is a sexual predator who parlayed his fame to abuse minors, a prosecutor said Monday during closing arguments at the R&B star’s child pornography and trial-fixing trial.
Addressing jurors in a 25th floor courtroom in Chicago, Kelly’s hometown, Elizabeth Pozol cited one of Kelly’s accusers who was the government’s start witness at the monthlong trial.
Referring to the accuser by a pseudonym, “Jane,” Pozol said Kelly “took advantage of Jane’s youth. He repeatedly abused her. He performed degrading acts upon her for his own sick pleasure.”
She said Kelly and his two co-defendants helped to recover child pornography videos and hid evidence before Kelly’s 2008 trail, at which he was acquitted.
She said they acted to cover up the fact that “R. Kelly … the R&B superstar … is actually a sexual predator.”
Minutes before the defense rested late Friday, Kelly co-defendant and ex-business manager Derrell McDavid ended three days on the stand. He testified for nearly two days that he had believed Kelly when he denied abusing minors — then said he started having doubts about Kelly’s believability during the trial that started last month.
Kelly and McDavid are charged with fixing Kelly’s 2008 state child pornography trial — at which Kelly was acquitted — by threatening witnesses and concealing video evidence. Both also face child pornography charges. Another co-defendant, Kelly associate Milton Brown, is accused of receiving child pornography.
Prosecutors normally get a chance to call witnesses in a rebuttal of the defense case. But when they told Judge Harry Leinenweber that they needed time to prepare, he said there would be no rebuttal and the case would go straight to closing arguments Monday morning.
McDavid was the only one of the three defendants to testify on his own behalf.
Kelly, 55, already was sentenced to 30 years in prison in June after a separate federal trial in New York.
Known for his smash hit “I Believe I Can Fly” and for sex-infused songs such as “Bump n’ Grind,” Kelly sold millions of albums even after allegations of sexual misconduct began circulating in the 1990s. Widespread outrage emerged after the #MeToo reckoning and the 2019 docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly.”
During Kelly’s monthlong trial in 2008, state prosecutors played a 30-minute, sexually explicit video dozens of times on large screens throughout the courtroom. Prosecutors said it showed Kelly abusing Jane — then 14 years old.
The ongoing trial is in some ways a do-over of the 2008 trial. The video was at the heart of that trial and is also in evidence at the current trial.
Jane, then an adult, did not testify at that 2008 trial, which jurors cited as a reason they couldn’t convict Kelly. She testified at the current trial that she was the person in that video. She also said Kelly sexually abused her hundreds of times starting when she was 14.
Follow Michael Tarm on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mtarm and find AP’s full coverage of the R. Kelly trial at https://apnews.com/hub/r-kelly
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