Defense attorneys for R. Kelly creatively found a way to bring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s name into the singer's sex trafficking case.
The R&B artist's defense attorney Deveraux Cannick made a shocking comparison during her closing arguments, telling jurors that the singer deserves to be acquitted while drawing comparison between him and the civil rights leader.
According to TMZ, Cannick called on King at one point in the Brooklyn courtroom, drawing inspiration from his "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech.
"Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of the press," she said in the room.
The prosecutor compared Kelly's fight to prove his innocence to that of King's movement for civil rights.
Kelly is charged with racketeering, but there are 14 key crimes that are associated with the overall charge, including sex trafficking, kidnapping and forced labor, CNN reports. If convicted, he faces 10 years to life in prison. Prosecutors also made their closing arguments on Thursday, saying that the "Bump n' Grind" singer "used lies, manipulation, threats and physical abuse to dominate his victims" for at least two decades.
Assistant U.S. District Attorney Elizabeth Geddes argued that while Kelly's wealth and popularity helped him stay above the fray, his inner circle helped make it all possible. Prosecutors said those around the singer have been privy to his alleged wrongdoings for over two decades.
“Over the past two decades, the names of the individuals have changed. But their roles have remained the same,” Geddes said. “And from the beginning, the defendant has been the leader.”
“The law recognizes when someone commits a crime as part of a group, he’s more powerful — more dangerous,” she expressed, explaining that “without his inner circle, the defendant could not have carried out the crimes he carried out for as long as he did.”
King wasn't the only popular figure brought up to compare with Kelly and some of the accusations against him, CBS New York reports. Attorneys argued that his request for women to call him "daddy" wasn't a crime, mentioning that former Vice President Mike Pence called his wife "mother."
The singer's defense team also attempted to argue that Kelly's actions aren't outlandish when considering his stance as a "sex symbol."