The trial of singer, songwriter and producer R. Kelly, 54, is currently taking place in Brooklyn, New York.
Several people have claimed that Kelly sexually exploited them. In this particular trial, the performer is facing nine charges – one of racketeering and eight violations of the Mann Act, which criminalizes the transportation of any woman or girl across state lines for “immoral” purposes.
Kelly has denied all charges against him.
After several days of testimony from some of these women, yesterday, the first man to accuse Kelly of sexual exploitation took the stand.
The man, who used the pseudonym Louis, says his involvement with Kelly dated back to 2006 when he was working at night shift at McDonalds. Kelly had visited the restaurant and given the then-teenager and a colleague his number, saying they were welcome at his studio.
Louis’ mom subsequently phoned Kelly to ask him if he could help with her son’s dreams of a music career and becoming a rapper.
Kelly invited the boy and his family to a party at his Chicago mansion. Following the party, Louis – then 17 – visited Kelly’s studio on two occasions.
According to The Guardian, Louis says Kelly asked him “what I was willing to do for music.” Louis replied, “I’ll carry your bags … Anything you need, I’ll be willing to do.”
“That’s not it. That’s not it,” Louis says Kelly responded before asking if he ever fantasized about sex with men. Louis then described how Kelly “crawled down on his knees and proceeded to give me oral sex” even though “I wasn’t into it”.
Louis says that afterward, Kelly “told me to keep [the encounter] between him and me.”
On another occasion, Louis says Kelly “snapped his fingers three times”. A naked girl appeared from under a boxing ring and performed oral sex on Kelly and the witness.
Louis said he had returned to see Kelly because “I really wanted to make it in the music industry.”
According to USA Today, the witness, now 32, was testifying as part of a co-operation agreement he entered into earlier this year by which he hopes to avoid jail time of up to 15 years.
He had previously pleaded guilty to offering money to a potential witness against Kelly in an attempt to stop her co-operating with prosecutors. No charges were bought against Kelly in relation to that case.
Another witness on Monday, a woman who used the name Addie, accused Kelly of sexually assaulting her when she was 17 following a concert in Miami in 1994. She said she’d been taken to Kelly’s dressing room, where he pulled down her shorts and made her have unprotected sex.
“I was in complete shock,” she said. “I didn’t know what to say at all. I basically went blank.”
Kelly’s defense attorneys have portrayed his accusers as groupies who are lying about their relationship with the singer.
If found guilty, Kelly faces ten years to life in prison. He is also facing other sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota. Like his current trial in New York, he has pleaded not guilty to those charges.