BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Dhanai Ram was the first defense witness in R. Kelly’s federal racketeering and sex trafficking trial. After testifying before the jury on Monday, Ram spoke exclusively with PIX11 News, saying “I kept quiet until today.”
Ram spent more than a decade inside R. Kelly’s world, telling PIX11 he travelled with his former mentor in the music business on tours around the world. Ram also said he observed R. Kelly’s interactions with his live-in girlfriends.
Ram said he never observed R. Kelly being controlling or abusive with his girlfriends.
“I was there,” Ram told PIX11. “Nobody’s chained up. Nobody’s locked behind locked doors.”
Instead, Ram described the R&B singer as being polite with his girlfriends, saying he watched R. Kelly take them shopping, to the movies and out to eat.
“He would never sit down and always stand up when they walked in,” he added.
But for the last month the men and women of the jury heard graphic, detailed testimony of R. Kelly’s alleged abuse over decades — from a radio station intern who recalled being locked in a room for days before R. Kelly had sex with her as she was passed out, to his former girlfriends who said R. Kelly forced them to have unwanted sex with him and other people.
Legal analyst Bernarda Villalona said prosecutors are trying to prove to the jury that R. Kelly is a sexual predator.
“That he used his power, used his fame in order to engage in sexual intercourse, illegal sexual intercourse with women [who were] under 18,” she said.
R. Kelly pleaded not guilty to the charges filed against him.
His defense team was expected to call more witnesses Tuesday morning.
Villalona believes it is unlikely that the defense will ask R. Kelly to testify.
“Remember he also has open cases in other jurisdictions, so prior bad acts can come in if he were to testify because it goes to the credibility, his believability,” she said.