One of R. Kelly's defense attorneys compared the disgraced R&B singer to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Hugh Hefner, and former Vice President Mike Pence during closing arguments on Thursday (September 23).
"Older man, somewhat younger women ... some people just like it that way," Attorney Deveraux Cannick said in the last statement to jurors before they head into deliberation. "Hugh Hefner –– that was his life," Cannick added. "Not a crime."
Kelly, however, is accused of criminal acts involving teenaged girls and is facing multiple federal charges for decades of alleged sex crimes and heading up a criminal enterprise for the purpose of transporting women and underaged girls for sexual acts.
Cannick reportedly kicked off the closing argument with an unclear comparison between Robert Kelly and the civil rights icon Martin Luther King, according to BuzzFeed News. The defense attorney went on to bring up Mike Pence, stating that the former second-in-command of the United States calls his wife "mother." What that has to do with the allegations against Kelly is unclear.
Cannick called the 11 accusers called by prosecutors to testify against Kelly liars.
"Some of the witnesses, just lie after lie after lie ... and the government let them lie," Cannick said in court. The lawyer went on to even call one of the victims who testified that she was just 16-years-old when Kelly sexually abused her a "stalker" and "groupie extraordinaire," while blaming the victims, accusing them of not doing enough to leave Kelly amid the abuse.
Cannick repeatedly mocked Kelly's accusers, changing his voice at one point and crying fake tears saying, "He raped me," to mimic the testimony of Jerhonda Pace who testified Kelly abused her when she was 16 years old.
Federal prosecutors took nearly a month to lay out a case against Kelly, calling 45 witnesses to the stand, including the singer's accusers who went into graphic, harrowing detail about the abuse by Kelly they said they endured for years.
"You can convict the defendant based on the witness testimony alone," Assistant US Attorney Nadia Shihata, one federal prosecutors, said in the near six-hour-long rebuttal, reminding jurors of the carts of evidence submitted in the trial against the singer.
Reading about Black trauma can have an impact on your mental health. If you or someone you know need immediate mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.
RAINN's National Sexual Assault Hotline is 1-800-656-4673.