Entertainment

Man testifies against R. Kelly in sex-trafficking trial

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 to say the R&B star exploited him in the same way when he was a high school student.

Witness in R&B star's trial alleges he was abused as a high school student

In this courtroom sketch, a man testifies during R. Kelly's sex abuse trial on Aug. 30, 2021, saying that the singer exploited him when he was a high school student. (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)

Warning: This story contains sensitive details related to sexual abuse.

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 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."

WATCH | R. Kelly's sexual assault trial gets underway in New York: 

R. Kelly’s sexual assault trial gets underway in New York

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Singer R. Kelly appeared in a New York courtroom Wednesday, to stand trial on charges of sexual assault, bribery and racketeering. Kelly has maintained a dedicated fan base despite being the subject of lawsuits and allegations of sexual misconduct since the 1990s. 2:00

"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," the witness said. 

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.

The witness said he kept seeing Kelly after that because "I really wanted to make it in the music industry." 

The witness was testifying as part of a co-operation agreement, stemming from his guilty plea in a separate case. In that case he was charged for taking part in a botched scheme to bribe a woman to not testify against Kelly. No charges were brought against Kelly related to the scheme.

Kelly denies allegations

Kelly, 54, is charged with racketeering, running a criminal enterprise and violating an anti-human-trafficking law called the Mann Act.

The singer 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.

"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, defence lawyer 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.

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