After five weeks of the prosecutors in R. Kelly’s case bringing witnesses to the stand, it is now time for the defense attorneys Thomas Farinella and Nicole Blank Becker, to fight the case. On Sept. 20, the defense called their first witness, Larry Hood, a former Chicago police officer who is a childhood friend of Kelly’s.
During his testimony, Hood said he never saw Kelly engage in any inappropriate activities with underage girls or women.
“As a police officer, I would have had to take action against that,” Hood said according to The New York Times. “I never had to take any action. I was never made aware of any wrongdoing.”
He then said he was present when Kelly met Aaliyah in 1994, who is accused of impregnating at the age of 15 and then marrying. He claimed he didn’t learn that Aaliyah was 15-year-old when she and Kelly married until “later in life.”
Besides Hood, the defense called a man named Dhanai Ramnanan to the stand, who continued to defend Kelly, as well. Ramnanan echoed Hood’s comments and said he always saw Kelly act as a gentleman when they were all out together.
“Whenever we’d go to a restaurant, they’d sit down first, they’d order first, they got to eat first,” he said. “I mean, chivalry, basically.”
Kelly’s trial kicked off on August 18, with the prosecution calling dozens of witnesses, accusers and previous employees of Kelly’s to the stand who all testified to seeing him engage in predatory and abusive behavior with underage girls. Six out of the 45 witnesses were women who accused Kelly of having sexual, abusive relationships with them while they were teenagers. They all seemed to have shared the same experience of being promised a music career but instead became involved in relationships with Kelly. They also testified they had been videotaped while engaging in sexual activity; being locked in rooms in Kelly’s homes and only being let out when he wanted to; being physically abused; and not being able to look at other men. The prosecution’s case against Kelly focused on the allegations and experiences from six women including Jerhonda Pace, deceased singer Aaliyah, women named Faith, Stephanie and another woman who used a pseudonym.
Kelly is charged with one count of racketeering, kidnapping, forced labor and eight violations of the Mann Act.
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