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 courtroom in Chicago, Kelly’s hometown, Elizabeth Pozolo cited one of Kelly’s accusers who was the government’s star witness at the monthlong trial.
Referring to the accuser by a pseudonym, “Jane,” Pozolo 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.”
Pozolo described in graphic detail the video excerpts jurors saw that she said show Kelly abusing Jane while she calls him “daddy” and refers to herself as being 14 years old. She said Kelly can be seen walking up to the camera to adjust it. Jane testified at trial that she was the teenager in the video.
“That abuse is forever memorialized …,” Pozolo told jurors, her voice rising. “Who does that? Who uses a 14-year-old child to film a video like this? This man. Robert Kelly.”
Before Kelly’s 2008 trial, Pozolo said Kelly and his associates scrambled to recover sex videos that had gone missing from a collection he often carried around in a large gym bag. More tapes revealing Kelly as a sexual abuser could sink his career and land him in yet more legal trouble, so he was prepared to make six- and seven-figure payments to get them back, Pozolo said.
“The secret that would ruin Kelly forever if it came out,” she said. “So yes, that secret was worth $1 million.”
Before the defense rested late Friday, Kelly co-defendant and ex-business manager Derrell McDavid testified 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 by threatening witnesses and concealing video evidence.
Jane did not testify in 2008, and jurors cited that as a reason they couldn’t convict Kelly then. The current proceedings are in some ways a do-over of that trial. This time, Jane testified that she was the girl in that video and that Kelly had sexually abused her hundreds of times starting when she was 14.
Kelly and McDavid also face child pornography charges. Another co-defendant, Kelly associate Milton Brown, is accused of receiving child pornography.
McDavid was the only one who testified on his own behalf.
Kelly, 55, is already facing 30 years in prison after a separate federal trial in New York in June.
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.”