The seven men and five women making up the jury have sat through 23 days of trial, which began on August 18 and included 50 witnesses overall. They began deliberating on Friday afternoon.
In closing arguments, Assistant US Attorney Elizabeth Geddes told jurors that Kelly was the head of an enterprise that promoted his music and his brand, but also served to recruit people for Kelly to “target, groom and exploit girls, boys and women.”
“Over the past several weeks, you’ve learned that the defendant’s inner circle worked together to promote the defendant’s music and brand, but his inner circle also served as enablers for his criminal conduct,” Geddes said.
Kelly has been on trial in New York for one count of racketeering, with 14 underlying acts that included sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, bribery, and sex trafficking charges. He is also charged with eight additional counts of violations of the Mann Act, a sex trafficking law.
In defense closing arguments, attorney Deveraux Cannick said the government misled jurors and allowed witnesses to lie, saying many of the witnesses accusing Kelly of sexual and physical abuse were in consensual relationships with the singer, and are now testifying against him to cash in on his fame.
“A lot of people watched ‘Surviving R. Kelly,’ and unfortunately a lot of people are now surviving off of R. Kelly,” Cannick said.
Prosecutors outlined their case, witness testimony and evidence over the course of more than six hours during their closing arguments.
“It is now time for the defendant, Robert Kelly, to pay for his crimes. Convict him,” Geddes said.
The case comes 13 years after Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, was acquitted of child pornography charges at an Illinois state trial.
Kelly faces more charges
Kelly still has legal battles after this trial. In the Northern District of Illinois, he faces more federal charges, including child pornography and obstruction charges. He also faces criminal charges in Minnesota, for two counts of engaging in prostitution with a minor, and Illinois state charges for aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges and denies any wrongdoing.
The 13-count indictment released in July 2019 in the Northern District of Illinois accused Kelly of videotaping himself having sex with at least four girls younger than 18 beginning in 1998. A few years later, after Kelly learned that some of those videos were missing from his “collection,” he and others began paying “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to several people to recover them, the indictment says.
Also in 2019, a grand jury in Cook County, Illinois, indicted Kelly on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four alleged victims, three of whom were listed as younger than 17.
That indictment was followed a few months later by another one from a Cook County grand jury on 11 counts, ranging from aggravated criminal sexual assault and criminal sexual assault to aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
In August 2019, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office in Minnesota announced Kelly was charged with two counts of prostitution with a person under 18. According to the criminal complaint, a woman said the incident happened in 2001 when she was 17.