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Man testifies against R. Kelly in sex-trafficking trial

Witness says R&B star groomed, sexually abused him when he was a high school student.
In this Aug. 19 courtroom artist's sketch, former R. Kelly employee Tom Arnold testifies at the R&B star's trial in New York. The 54-year-old Kelly has repeatedly denied accusations that he preyed on several alleged victims during a 30-year career highlighted by his mega hit "I Believe I Can Fly."
In this Aug. 19 courtroom artist's sketch, former R. Kelly employee Tom Arnold testifies at the R&B star's trial in New York. The 54-year-old Kelly has repeatedly denied accusations that he preyed on several alleged victims during a 30-year career highlighted by his mega hit "I Believe I Can Fly." [ ELIZABETH WILLIAMS | AP ]
Published Aug. 30

NEW YORK — After several days of testimony from women claiming they were groomed and sexually abused by R. Kelly, a man took the witness stand at Kelly’s sex-trafficking trial in New York City on Monday to say the R&B star exploited him in the same way when he was a high school student.

The witness, taking the witness stand in federal court in Brooklyn without using his real name, told a jury how Kelly lured him to his Chicago-area home in 2007 with false offers of helping him with his fledgling music career.

Kelly asked the alleged victim, then 17, “what I was willing to do for music,” the witness said. He replied, “I’ll carry your bags. ... Anything you need, I’ll be willing to do.”

“That’s not it. That’s not it,” he said Kelly responded before asking him if he ever fantasized about having sex with men. He described how Kelly then “crawled down on his knees and proceeded to give me oral sex,” even though, “I wasn’t into it.”

Afterward, “he told me to keep between him and me,” he said.

In this Aug. 26 courtroom artist's sketch, R. Kelly, left, listens during his trial in New York. The 54-year-old Kelly has repeatedly denied accusations that he preyed on several alleged victims during a 30-year career highlighted by his mega hit "I Believe I Can Fly."
In this Aug. 26 courtroom artist's sketch, R. Kelly, left, listens during his trial in New York. The 54-year-old Kelly has repeatedly denied accusations that he preyed on several alleged victims during a 30-year career highlighted by his mega hit "I Believe I Can Fly." [ ELIZABETH WILLIAMS | AP ]

In a later episode, Kelly “snapped his fingers three times” to summon a naked girl from where she was hiding under a boxing ring to give Kelly and the witness oral sex, the man told the jury.

He kept seeing Kelly after that because “I really wanted to make it in the music industry,” he said.

Kelly, 54, has repeatedly denied accusations that he preyed on victims during a 30-year career highlighted by his 1996 mega hit “I Believe I Can Fly.” His lawyers have portrayed his accusers as groupies who are lying about their relationships with him.

Earlier Monday, a woman testified that Kelly sexually assaulted her at age 17 following a performance in Miami in 1994. The witness, also testifying without using her real name, claimed that Kelly’s cronies took her and a friend to his dressing room after the show before he pulled down her shorts and forced her to have unprotected sex, she said.

“I was in complete shock,” she said. “I didn’t know what to say at all. I basically went blank.”

Afterward, she and her friend “unlocked the door and ran out of there,” she said.

On cross-examination, defense attorney Deveraux Cannick pressed the witness on why, after someone allegedly “raped you,” she waited more than two decades to contact law enforcement.

“Because I didn’t want to feel more shame and trauma,” she said.

By TOM HAYS, Associated Press.