Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn rested their case on Monday (Sept. 20) against embattled R&B singer R. Kelly after presenting shocking testimony over four weeks about alleged sexual abuse and punishment of young women and girls who were his “girlfriends.”
The prosecutor rested after its 45th and final witness, Dr. Dawn Hughes was cross-examined by the defense. Hughes, a clinical forensic psychologist, testified on Friday (Sept. 18) about how underage girls may be groomed for sex, and how victims cope with the trauma.
Kelly’s attorney asked Hughes whether she evaluated any of the accusers or reviewed transcripts. Hughes replied that she had not, in a cross-examination that lasted only a few minutes on Monday morning.
The focus now shifts to Kelly’s legal team. According to The New York Times, his attorney presented a list of about six witnesses but could add more names. Kelly was not expected to testify in his own defense.
On Monday the team called their first witness, Dhani Ramanan, an aspiring artist who worked periodically with Kelly, said he never witnessed Kelly physically or verbally abuse his girlfriends over the 15 years that the singer mentored him, as multiple girlfriends and former Kelly employees have testified. He also denied ever observing Kelly restricting the freedom of his alleged victims or that he had any sexual contact with them.
During cross-examination, Ramanan said he was not on Kelly’s payroll and was not present on a daily basis. He also testified that he was never with Kelly when the singer was alone with his girlfriends.
After presenting their case, not expected to last more than a week, jurors will decide whether Kelly is guilty of running a criminal sex trafficking enterprise for more than two decades.
Kelly, 54, has pleaded not guilty to racketeering charges in which he is accused of running an enterprise in which managers and other employees steered sex crime victims to him. The main racketeering charge alone carries 20 years in prison if he is convicted on the federal charges.
With reporting by CBS News