R. Kelly’s attorney compares singer to Martin Luther King in closing arguments

Nine women and two men testified during the trial, alleging the disgraced singer sexually abused them. 

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R. Kelly’s lawyer compared him to civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the closing argument of the singer’s federal racketeering trial in Brooklyn. 

Attorney Deveraux Cannick noted on Thursday that prosecutors have a responsibility to prove Kelly’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt — in the same way King fought for constitutional civil rights, TMZ reports. 

Cannick quoted from King’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, telling jurors the civil rights leader called on the government to be fair to all Americans. 

“Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of the press,” Cannick quoted King. He said King fought for civil rights in an effort to make the government “be true to what’s on paper.”   

R. Kelly
R. Kelly (Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP, File)

Nine women and two men testified during the trial, claiming Kelly sexually abused them. 

Cheryl Mack, the mother of music producer London on da Track, served as Kelly’s assistant from 2013 to 2015, as previously reported by theGrio. During the trial, she tearfully testified that she witnessed the Grammy-winning singer humiliate young women. She also said Kelly withheld pay on occasion and bullied her into signing false apology letters.

theGrio reported that the witness previously referred to as Jane Doe took the stand and said she caught Kelly giving late singer Aaliyah oral sex on the back of a tour bus in the early 90s, per The Huff Post

The witness, who identified herself as just “Angela,” was the tenth witness to testify. She told the court that she worked as a background dancer for Kelly. She claims that she and another woman were playing a pranking game while on tour. At some point, they decided to prank Kelly. Angela claimed she “slightly opened the door and saw Robert and Aaliyah in a sexual situation.”

Kelly and Aaliyah were illegally married in August 1994. At the time, Aaliyah was 15 and Kelly was 27. Kelly’s former road manager Demetrius Smith testified that Kelly married Aaliyah to avoid jail time because he believed Aaliyah was pregnant with his baby, theGrio previously reported

“For decades, the defendant recruited and groomed women, girls and boys for his own sexual gratification,” Elizabeth Geddes, a lawyer for the prosecution, told the jury. “With the help of his inner circle, he slowly isolated his victims, set rules, and exacted punishment.”

She continued: “It is time to hold the defendant responsible for the pain he inflicted on each of his victims. It is now time for the defendant to pay for his crimes. Convict him.”

The prosecution told jurors that Kelly should pay for the “pain he inflicted on each of his victims.”

Kelly is on trial in Brooklyn, New York for crimes including racketeering, sex trafficking, sex with minors, sexual abuse, knowingly infecting another with a sexually transmitted disease, and bribery. He also faces similar charges in other states.

In his home state of Illinois, he’s charged with aggravated sexual abuse, child pornography, enticement of a minor, and obstruction of justice, according to The Los Angeles Times.

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In Minnesota, Kelly faces charges of prostitution and solicitation of a minor. He faces 10 years to life in prison if convicted.

This article contains additional reporting from Matthew Allen and Brenda Alexander.

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