Prosecutors rest case against R. Kelly

NEW YORK —  US prosecutors on Monday rested their sex trafficking case against R. Kelly, after a month of often disturbing and graphic testimony from people who accused the R&B star of sexually abusing women and girls.

Prosecutors have sought to portray the 54-year-old Mr. Kelly as a hot-tempered predator who exploited his fame to draw fans and aspiring singers into his circle, only to coerce them into obeying his rigid rules and punish them if they failed.

Defense lawyers have tried to portray Mr. Kelly’s accusers as fans who felt jilted after being unable to capitalize on the singer’s fame, and questioned why they failed to leave Mr. Kelly sooner or go to the police, and waited years to come forward.

US District Judge Ann Donnelly suggested that the jurors in Brooklyn federal court could begin deliberating as soon as Thursday.

That suggests that Mr. Kelly’s defense, which began on Monday and which his lawyers said may include about six witnesses, will likely not include testimony from Mr. Kelly himself.

Mr. Kelly is not required to testify, and would likely be subjected to days of questioning from prosecutors if he took the witness stand.

The singer, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, has pleaded not guilty to one count of racketeering and eight counts of illegally transporting people across state lines for prostitution.

Prosecutors have accused Mr. Kelly of grooming and preying on women and girls as far back as the mid-1990s, when his music including the 1996 Grammy-winning song “I Believe I Can Fly” propelled him to fame. — Reuters