R. Kelly
BBC R. Kelly

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

Assistant U.S. 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 used his operations to "dominate his victims," and exploited his "money and public persona to hide his crimes in plain sight," Geddes said.

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

Geddes' closing has lasted about 3-1/2 hours, and will continue on Thursday, when Kelly's defense team will offer its closing argument. Jurors could begin deliberating later on Thursday.

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 "I Believe I Can Fly," Kelly is one of the most prominent people tried for sexual misconduct during the #MeToo movement.

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

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

Once there, Kelly would demand strict obedience to his rules or else punish his victims, sometimes by locking them in rooms or depriving them of food, and had many write bogus letters absolving him of blame, prosecutors said.

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.