R.Kelly hid crimes in plain sight: Lawyer

R. Kelly (c) has been on trial since August on racketeering charges involving women and girls.
R. Kelly (c) has been on trial since August on racketeering charges involving women and girls.

R. Kelly dominated not only women and girls but also his employees over a quarter of a century of sexual abuse, a prosecutor has said as the R&B star's sex trafficking trial nears its conclusion.

Assistant US Attorney Elizabeth Geddes told jurors during her closing argument in Brooklyn federal court that Kelly's entourage of business managers, accountants, runners and other employees was "at his disposal".

She said some "turned a blind eye" as they recruited women and girls for Kelly's sexual gratification, a side long concealed from the public and fans of his music.

Kelly would "dominate his victims", and exploited his "money and public persona to hide his crimes in plain sight", Geddes said.

The comments came at the end of a five-week trial over Kelly's alleged abuses, where several accusers including men testified against the singer.

Kelly's defence team will offer its closing argument on Thursday, with jurors expected to begin deliberating later in the day.

Kelly, 54 - whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly - had pleaded not guilty to one count of racketeering, and eight counts of violating the Mann Act by illegally transporting people across state lines for prostitution.

Known for the 1996 Grammy-winning smash hit I Believe I Can Fly, Kelly is one of the most prominent people tried for sexual misconduct during the #MeToo era.

The singer has been dogged since the early 2000s by sexual abuse accusations, which he has consistently denied, and which were amplified in the January 2019 documentary Surviving R. Kelly.

Prosecutors have tried to portray Kelly as an intemperate predator who exploited his fame to attract fans into his circle.

His alleged victims included the late singer Aaliyah, who Kelly briefly and illegally married in 1994 when she was 15. Aaliyah died in a 2001 plane crash.

Geddes referred to testimony last month from a woman, identified as Addie, who said Kelly abused her just a few days after marrying Aaliyah.

"He didn't skip a beat," Geddes said.

Defence lawyers have tried to portray Kelly's accusers as formerly star-struck fans whose relationships with the singer did not work out.

They have also questioned why accusers waited so long to come forward and sometimes stayed with Kelly even after he allegedly abused them.

Kelly did not testify, which is his right, and which could have subjected him to days of tough questioning by prosecutors, who spent four and a half weeks outlining their case.

The defence case lasted about two days.

Australian Associated Press