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As R. Kelly’s sex trafficking trial carries on, witnesses continue to describe the singer’s alleged bizarre rules at his former mansion and recording studio dubbed the “Chocolate Factory.”
Former employees and sexual abuse accusers alike have been testifying in detail about the alleged conditions at the building, which operated from about 2004 to 2010, CNN reports. The “Chocolate Factory” has been described as having a boxing ring, movie theater, a tank full of sharks, two recording studios and a log cabin.
The secluded mansion, located in the outskirts of Chicago, was also an epicenter of the singer’s alleged controlling actions.
Two women testified that they had to follow protocol, called "Rob's Rules," while staying both at the mansion and on the road. They claimed they had to stay in their room unless they had permission to exit, wear baggy clothes, avoid making eye contact with all other men, and avoid talking to any other men, CNN reports.
Jerhonda Pace testified earlier this month that she was 16 years old when she began visiting the “Chocolate Factory.” She alleged that Kelly sexually abused her and that she was once stuck in a room covered with mirrors on the walls and ceiling for three days before she got permission to use a bathroom, CNN reports. Kelly's defense argued that there was a bathroom attached to the room.
Former employee Anthony Navarro, who now owns his own recording studio, testified that the mansion “was almost like the Twilight Zone when you went into the gate, like you're in this different world that was just a strange place," CNN reports.
Kelly’s former studio manager Tom Arnold testified that guards at the gate would strictly monitor guests and make copies of their IDs. He added that guests were made to sign "nondisclosure agreements" upon entering and have Polaroids taken of them and stapled to their agreements.
Kelly’s defense has said the agreements and the security measures were necessary to protect Kelly and other artists’ privacy.
Last week, a woman testified that the singer made her and others write blackmail letters in the event that he was ever accused of sexually abusing them.
Prosecutors say Kelly abused women and girls for nearly two decades and that he led a criminal enterprise involving managers, bodyguards and other employees who recruited women and girls for sex.
Kelly has long denied the allegations and his defense has described his accusers as groupies who only started accusing him of abuse following the #MeToo movement.
However, Kelly has been plagued with accusations for decades about his sexual behavior. He was accused of producing child pornography in Chicago in 2002, but was acquitted of the charge in 2008.
In Brooklyn, he faces more than a dozen criminal counts of sex trafficking, racketeering, coercion, and other charges in connection with the abuse of women and girls. He is also accused of producing child pornography and destroying evidence in a separate case in Illinois.
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