R&B singer R Kelly. Photo: EPA/JASON SZENES CORBIS
R&B singer R Kelly. Photo: EPA/JASON SZENES CORBIS

Former R. Kelly assistant speaks of 'the look in his eyes' at singer's sex abuse trial

By Reuters Time of article published Aug 31, 2021

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New York - A onetime assistant for R. Kelly testified at his racketeering trial in Brooklyn that the R&B singer was a confrontational boss who insisted she steer clear of the girlfriends he kept in his entourage.

Suzette Mayweather, the former assistant, told a federal prosecutor that Kelly threatened to "fine" her for speaking with his girlfriends, and once instructed her to fetch him sweet potato pie at 1 or 2 am as punishment for doing so.

Mayweather also said one girlfriend named Dominique once told her about wanting to be a writer, and that when Kelly learned they had spoken lied to protect her by saying she, not Dominique, had initiated the conversation.

"It was the first time I had ever seen Rob this upset," Mayweather said of Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, in testimony in Brooklyn federal court. "It was the look in his eyes."

The testimony came on the ninth day of Kelly's trial for running what prosecutors call his decades-long targeting of women and girls for sex, with the help of employees and assistants.

Kelly, 54, has pleaded not guilty to one racketeering count and eight counts of violating an interstate sex trafficking law.

An indictment accuses him of abusing six women and girls, including the late singer Aaliyah. A male accuser has also said Kelly sexually abused him.

Several accusers and former employees have testified for the government, saying Kelly demanded they obediently follow "Rob's rules" even as he preyed on victims, including former fans and people who hoped Kelly could jumpstart their own music careers.

Mayweather described a January 2016 birthday party in Chicago where she said Kelly ordered female attendees to fight among themselves, because he did not like that they were "twerking for cake."

Known for the 1996 Grammy-winning song "I Believe I Can Fly," Kelly has been dogged by sexual abuse accusations for nearly two decades. Many were discussed in the 2019 Lifetime documentary "Surviving R. Kelly."

The trial began on Aug. 18, and is expected to last well into September. Kelly has been jailed for more than two years and also faces sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota.

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