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Jury urged to make R. Kelly pay for his alleged sex crimes

Closing arguments underway in R&B superstar’s sex-trafficking trial. The jury could get the case as early as Friday.
In this courtroom sketch, R. Kelly, center, sits with his defense attorneys Thomas Farinella, top, and Nicole Blank Becker during the first day of his defense in his sex-trafficking case, Monday in New York.
In this courtroom sketch, R. Kelly, center, sits with his defense attorneys Thomas Farinella, top, and Nicole Blank Becker during the first day of his defense in his sex-trafficking case, Monday in New York. [ ELIZABETH WILLIAMS | AP ]
Published Sep. 23

NEW YORK — With the R. Kelly sex-trafficking trial nearing jury deliberations, a prosecutor on Thursday urged jurors to convict the R&B superstar on federal charges that he used his celebrity as leverage to sexually abuse women, girls and boys for more than two decades.

Related: After years of suspicion, reckoning for R. Kelly

“It is now time to hold the defendant responsible for the pain he inflicted on each of his victims,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Geddes said in concluding her closing arguments in federal court in Brooklyn. “It is now time for the defendant, Robert Kelly, to pay for his crimes. Convict him.”

In this illustration drawn from a video feed, Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Geddes, bottom, presents her closing statement to the jury (not seen in video feed) while pointing to a large panel of photos of R. Kelly's inner circle and employees, Wednesday in New York. R. Kelly is seen seated at the defense table in inset on upper left. He is also seated far right at the bottom on the image.
In this illustration drawn from a video feed, Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Geddes, bottom, presents her closing statement to the jury (not seen in video feed) while pointing to a large panel of photos of R. Kelly's inner circle and employees, Wednesday in New York. R. Kelly is seen seated at the defense table in inset on upper left. He is also seated far right at the bottom on the image. [ ELIZABETH WILLIAMS | AP ]

Her remarks came after an exhaustive recitation of evidence the government says proves how Kelly, with the help of some loyal members of his entourage, lured underage victims into his orbit before subjecting them to tactics from “the predator playbook.”

Related: Accuser Jerhonda Pace testifies at R. Kelly sex-trafficking trial

The tactics included isolating them in hotel rooms or his studio, subjecting them to degrading rules and punishments and making video recordings of them having sex with him and others as a means to control them, prosecutors said.

Geddes described one graphic video — seen by the jury during testimony, but not by the public — she said showed Kelly forcing one of his victims to give another man oral sex. The woman submitted “because her will had been broken,” the prosecutor said.

Related: Witness says R. Kelly groomed, sexually abused him when he was a high school student

The defense was to begin its closing argument later Thursday. The jury could get the case as early as Friday afternoon at the trial that began Aug. 18.

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. He’s also charged with multiple violations of the Mann Act, which makes it illegal to transport anyone across state lines “for any immoral purpose.”

R. Kelly emerges from his studio before turning himself in to Chicago police Feb. 22, 2019.
R. Kelly emerges from his studio before turning himself in to Chicago police Feb. 22, 2019.

The defendant has vehemently denied the allegations, claiming that the accusers were groupies who wanted to take advantage of his fame and fortune until the #MeToo movement turned them against him.

By TOM HAYS, Associated Press.