R. Kelly told a judge on Wednesday that he won’t take the witness stand at his sex trafficking trial, meaning he’ll avoid the risk of a potentially brutal cross-examination.
“You don’t want to testify, correct?” U.S. District Judge Ann Connelly asked the R&B singer. He responded: “Yes, ma’am.”
Lawyers had already said Kelly was unlikely to testify on his own behalf. The defense is now expected to rest its case later Wednesday, clearing the way for the start of closing arguments.
The short defense case has relied on a handful of former Kelly employees and other associates who agreed to take the stand to try to discredit allegations that he sexually abused women, girls, and boys during a 30-year musical career highlighted by the 1996 smash hit I Believe I Can Fly.
The 54-year-old defendant, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, has pleaded not guilty to racketeering charges. He’s also charged with multiple violations of the Mann Act, which makes it illegal to transport anyone across state lines “for any immoral purpose.”
Kelly has vehemently denied the allegations, claiming that the accusers were groupies who wanted to take advantage of his fame and fortune until the #MeToo movement turned them against him.
Members of the media and the public haven’t actually seen the jailed Kelly in person. U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly has barred people not directly involved in the case from the courtroom in what she called a coronavirus precaution.