Replacing fear with the idea of desire, submission with appetite, this is the strategy of the defenders of singer R. Kelly.
"His label began to promote him as a sex symbol, a playboy, so he began to live a sex symbol, a playboy life," lawyer Deveraux Cannick pleaded on Wednesday.
"Where's the crime in there?"
", He added before the jury, while the fallen star of R&B has been tried since August 18 in New York for extortion, sexual exploitation of minors, kidnapping, corruption and forced labor, over a period ranging from 1994 to 2018.
During the first month of the trial in Brooklyn Federal Court, nine women and two men testified that R. Kelly had sexually abused them, describing rape, forced drug use, imprisonment or more facts of child pornography.
The prosecution portrayed him as a "predator" and the chief of a "system" aided by his employees or those around him, to procure sexual favors.
Since Monday, the floor is defense.
Witnesses came to say that they had never seen Kelly abuse women but they also admitted that they were not present most of the time, when the singer was alone with his guests.
"Perverse sex is not a crime"
On Wednesday, in an occasionally mocking tone, the lawyer portrayed the alleged victims as money-hungry groupies.
"A lot of people survive thanks to R. Kelly", quipped Deveraux Cannick, referring to the documentary series "Surviving R. Kelly" ("Surviving R. Kelly") which had brought to light the accusations of sexual abuse against the singer, known worldwide for his hit "I believe I can fly" and triple winner of the Grammy Awards in 1998.
"Perverse sex is not a crime", continued the lawyer, assuring that R. Kelly "treated these women like queens".
He went so far as to compare the singer to Martin Luther King, saying that R. Kelly had only sought to "protest injustice" as the iconic civil rights leader.
If he is found guilty of all the charges against him, the singer risks ten years in prison to life.
The singer's lawyers must make their final argument this Thursday, they should not call their client to the bar to testify.
Then, the jury composed of seven men and five women will begin to deliberate on the guilt or not of R. Kelly.