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R Kelly prosecutors ask court to hear more testimonies alleging further abuse, bribes and threats in New York trial

By | Published on Monday 26 July 2021

R Kelly

Federal prosecutors in R Kelly’s New York sex abuse case have asked for more testimonies to be heard at the musicians’ upcoming trial.

One of three prosecutions pending in relation to the numerous allegations of sexual abuse that have been made against Kelly, the New York case currently centres on allegations made by six women and girls.

However, prosecutors now say that they want the court to also hear testimonies from more than twelve other people. Those testimonies would include information about two men who allegedly had sexual contact with Kelly when they were underage.

One of those unnamed men says that he was seventeen and trying to break into the music industry when he met Kelly at a McDonald’s in 2006. After being invited to the star’s Chicago studio, he claims that Kelly asked him what he would be willing to do to make it music, before propositioning him and having sexual contact.

Prosecutors say that this testimony has additional bearing on the case, particularly how Kelly exerted control over his alleged victims and others.

The accuser also says that, when Kelly went on trial on child abuse charges in 2008, he told the musician that he had access to one of the jurors in that case. He claims Kelly then asked him to contact that juror and tell him that the music star was “a good guy”. It is not clear if the boy followed through with that request. However, Kelly was acquitted in that case.

It is accusations that Kelly attempted to influence the outcome of that previous trial – mainly by witness tampering – that has seen the musician held in custody for the last two years ever since the most recent round of charges were filed. The court has agreed with the prosecutor that there is a risk that Kelly will attempt to influence his new trials. Indeed, three associates have already been charged with threatening or attempting to pay off witnesses.

In April, one of those men – Richard Arline Jr – pleaded guilty to offering one of Kelly’s accusers money to withdraw her allegations. He also told that woman, in phone calls recorded by investigators, that the payments he was offering had been approved by Kelly himself.

Writing to the court on Saturday, prosecutors said that the new testimonies they are putting forward establish that the charges set to be considered during the trial “were not isolated events and were part of a larger pattern”.

As well as further accusations of abuse, the testimonies include a number of other alleged crimes. One of these is an accusation that Kelly paid a public official $500 to make a fake ID so it would appear that a woman – believed to be the singer Aaliyah, but listed at ‘Jane Doe 1’ – was eighteen, rather than fifteen, when she married Kelly in 1994.

If the new testimonies are permitted by the court, another witness will say that Kelly asked her to obtain videos featuring the sexual abuse of boys. In the filing, prosecutors say that a number of videos were obtained during a search of Kelly’s home that will corroborate this. Although the filing also says that prosecutors have been “unable to confirm the identity or ages of the individuals appearing in these videos”.

Kelly has not been formally charged of any of the additional alleged crimes described in these testimonies within the New York case, though some of these testimonies are linked to one of the other pending trials in Chicago. And prosecutors argue that, even when not directly liked to charges in New York state, the testimonies are “inextricably intertwined with the evidence of the charged crimes”.

Prosecutors have also asked that a number of their witnesses be allowed to testify under pseudonyms for their own safety.

The court has not yet responded to the new requests. The trial is set to begin on 9 Aug. Kelly has pleaded not guilty to all charges.