Several key witnesses against Mr Kelly, who is on trial in Brooklyn, still appear to be loyal to the singer - but their accounts seem to corroborate the charges against him.
R. Kelly and one of her assistants were in a park in Chicago a few years before her arrest in 2019 when the singer asked assistant Diana Copeland why she hadn't taken action to prevent one of her girlfriends from doing so. his suitcase and leave his home.
Why, he wanted to know, had Mrs. Copeland let the woman "escape?
This single word of Ms Copeland's testimony at Mr Kelly's trial on Friday echoed after hours of startling testimony from accusers who said that Mr. Kelly sexually and physically assaulted them , imprisoned and raped them. But along with these accusers, employees like Ms Copeland - who worked intermittently for Mr Kelly for around 15 years and was the fifth former employee to take a stand against the R&B star - are at the center of the racketeering affair. against him. .
The testimonies of former employees go to the heart of the government 's claim that Mr. Kelly was not only a predator, but also the ringleader of many decades -long plot that used his fame for prey on a treadmill of women, men and teenagers, on whom he precise wilt control . (Mr Kelly's attorneys have yet to have a chance to cross-examine Ms Copeland, who had been on the stand for about an hour when the hearing day ended on Friday.)
In her testimony, Ms. Copeland described Mr. Kelly's bizarre efforts to control women in your sphere - until The Uber drivers with whom he authorized . If a man stopped, she would say, "I should call another" - until a female driver appeared. Another woman testified that Ms. Copeland had accompanied her to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases and then withheld the results of her test. (Several women testified that Mr. Kelly knowingly gave them herpes .)
In a deep-rooted case by the accounts of his meetings with six women over decades , Mr. Kelly, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, is charged with one count of racketeering and eight violations of a sex trafficking law known as the Mann Law. Main charge, made famous for catching mobsters, allows prosecutors to present evidence of potential crimes - like Mr. Kelly's illicit marriage with a 15-year-old Aaliyah in 1994 - that would normally be too old to be considered at trial.
But such a case depends on former employees testifying the core of a criminal enterprise swelling far beyond the bounds of what Mr. Kelly's defense attorneys have described as mere linings of a thriving musical empire.
Jeffrey Lichtman , a lawyer who has represented El Chapo and successfully defended John A. Gotti Jr. of the Gambino family in federal cases in which they were charged with leading criminal enterprises, described the case against the singer as "very unusual ".
"To convict a mob boss, they call in associates and force the men to turn around, "Mr Lichtman said of prosecutors." But now this company consists of its employees who made the offer to R. Kelly: to find him girls and the 'help control them. "
The government ' s use of testimonials from former employees, one of whom received legal compensation for his stint at the bar, should validate the stories of his accusers, including meetings and relationships with chansometimes loaded with messy and contradictory details.
Sometimes these employees, some of whom seemed loyal to the singer and were subpoenaed to testify, corroborated the testimony of the accusers, acknowledging the many, strict rules that women had to follow, and the abuse they say they suffered .
An employee, Tom Arnold, who worked for the singer for about eight years until 2011, told the jury during the second week of the trial that he and others working for the singer singer were engaged in such a prolific attempt to secure young women for Mr. Kelly that they typed and printed the phone number of the singer on slips of paper to distribute in shopping malls, concerts and afterparties.
After the integration of these women into her large circle, Mr Kelly limited his girlfriends' interactions with other men to such an extent that Ms Copeland said the singer had already deducted her pay simply because she made a date for two days. 'between them in a nail salon where a man was working.
Mr. Kelly ordered women to turn away from other men in stores and shops elevators, Ms Copeland said, noting that she accidentally left a girlfriend at home in an elevator because the woman had her back turned to her when a man got on board and didn't see Mrs. Copelandget off.
The multitude of women living with Mr Kelly were "not free to walk around the house," Ms Copeland said, adding that As an employee, she could move, but that freedom came with strings: the singer asked her to knock on the walls as she moved from room to room. I have announced my presence. "
Understanding the R. Kelly Trial Map 1 of 4
What are the fees? Mr. Kelly faces one charge of racketeering based on sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping and forced labor, and eight counts of violating the law Mann, who bannedt transport anyone across state s for the purpose of prostitution.
Who is testifying? The trial centers around six women , of which several should testify. Prosecutors say the singer physically and psychologically abused many of them and controlled several aspects of their lives, including when they could eat and use the toilet. At least three were minors.
His marriage to Aaliyah. Part of the case concerns R. Kelly's marriage to singer Aaliyah, who was 15 when they married in 1994. Mr. Kelly's former tour manager testified that R. Kelly bribed a government employeenot in 1994 so that he could get a fake ID for her.
The 2008 test. The artist was acquitted in a high-profile criminal case against him for child pornography in 2008. The trial centered on a videotape which prosecutors say showed R. Kelly having sex sex with a 14 year old girl. She refused to testify. Here is a full timeline of the allegations .
Describing a landscape of culture Kelly's company over the decades, the five employees who have testified so far have described working for the singer in surreal terms far exceeding that of an eccentric artist - noting at times that they broke the law to help facilitate Mr. Kelly's interactions with underage girls.
"It was almost like the twilight zone ”Anthony Navarro, a former runner who worked for the singer for about two years, told the jury on day three of the trial.rte, and it was lik a different world, just a strange place. "
To Demetrius Smith, who worked as the singer's tour director at Early in his career, being part of Mr. Kelly 's world included helping him secure false identification data for Aaliyah , who was then 15 years old and who Mr. Kelly believed to be pregnant with her child , according to court testimony.
Mr. Smith, who was subpoenaed for two days near the start of the trial, said even s ' he disagreed with the illegal marriage, he felt obligated to help make it work in order to stay in the singer's good graces. And, he said, he feared that if he didn't contribute to the plan, "I felt like I was going to be cleared.
During two days of testimony in the third week of the trial, Suzette Mayweather, another personal assistant to the singer who described herself on the stand as the longtime friend of Mr Kelly, said his desire to control the women in his orbit made him suspect that he sometimes uses violence to impose his will. (Ms Mayweather said she had never seen Mr Kelly hit anyone, but she had heard what sounded like a slap before and another woman had shown her the marks he had received when he
Once, after talking with one of Mr. Kelly's girlfriends about his relationship with the singer, his children and his own aspirations as a singer. Writer Ms Mayweather said Mr Kelly toasted her about the conversations, which she told the jury the other woman had always initiated.
But when Mr. Kelly interviewed her in her studio that day, Ms. Mayweather said she lied to him, taking responsibility or having started the forbidden conversations, having feared for the safety of the woman.
"I had never seen Rob so upset, and that wasn 't his tone, "she said. "It was the look in his eyes.
Troy Closson and Rebecca Davis O 'Brien contributed reports.