R Kelly's lawyer compares him to Martin Luther King in closing arguments of sex trafficking trial

New York, New York - R Kelly's lawyer compared the R&B superstar to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, during a fiery closing argument in Brooklyn Federal Court on Thursday.

R Kelly has been accused of sex trafficking and abuse by more than 10 women (file photo).
R Kelly has been accused of sex trafficking and abuse by more than 10 women (file photo).  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

The comparison came at the beginning of Deveraux Cannick's final address to the jury at Kelly's sex trafficking trial.

He said the singer and the Black minister both sought to uphold America's Constitution and quoted from King's famous "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech.

"Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech," Cannick said. "Somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly."

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"That's all Robert is trying to do," Cannick said, insisting that his client, like King both wanted to make America "be true to what's on paper."

He compared the jury to Dr King as well.

"You don't have to worry about being beaten, maimed or killed. You just have to do your job," Cannick said.

The end of a harrowing trial

R Kelly faces 10 years to life in prison if convicted (file photo).
R Kelly faces 10 years to life in prison if convicted (file photo).  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

The closings from Cannick come after six weeks in court that saw more than 10 accusers level claims of sexual abuse at R Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly.

Prosecutors accused Kelly (54) of running an enterprise that peddled women and girls for illegal sex over more than a quarter century – and the women painted a pattern of abuse the I Believe I Can Fly singer with stunning consistency.

He made all his girlfriends call him "Daddy" and controlled how they dressed, when they could use the bathroom or eat, how they could interact with men, and whether they could leave the rooms he kept them inside his houses or hotels on the road, women testified.

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Cannick insisted Thursday that the women were not being truthful, and that his cross-examination over the course of the trial sliced through what they said on the stand.

"They're lying. And you knew they were lying ... Lie after lie after lie," he said. "And you know what's so sad about it? The government let them lie."

"Where's the fairness to Robert? Where's the integrity?"

Cannick's case followed a six-and-a-half-hour closing from Assistant US Attorney Elizabeth Geddes, who meticulously argued count by count that Kelly was guilty of the crimes he is accused of committing.

"The defendant, Robert Sylvester Kelly, used his fame, his popularity, and the network of people at his disposal to target, groom and exploit girls, boys and young women for his sexual gratification," she said Wednesday.

The jury is expected to get the case Friday. Kelly faces 10 years to life in prison if convicted.

Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

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