R. Kelly Required Some 'Girls' to Get His Permission to Order Takeout, Ex-Employee Says

R&B singer R. Kelly required some "girls" to get his permission before they could order takeout food, one of his former employees testified on Friday.

Anthony Navarro was called as a government witness at Kelly's New York sex-trafficking trial. Navarro said Kelly controlled when or whether visitors to his Chicago-area mansion could leave or even order food.

Kelly's mansion had a recording studio and a constant stream of female visitors, and Navarro said the "girls" were strictly controlled by Kelly's rules. Some would stay at the mansion for long stretches and couldn't eat or leave without the singer's permission.

"There's been times where they wanted to [leave] but couldn't because they couldn't get a ride or we couldn't get ahold of Rob," Navarro said.

An anonymous jury comprising five women and seven men heard testimony earlier this week from one of Kelly's accusers. The trial is scheduled to last for several weeks and will involve testimony from other women accusing Kelly of sexual assault.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

R. Kelly sex-trafficking
An ex-employee of singer R. Kelly testified on August 20 that Kelly forced some women and girls visiting his mansion to get his permission before they could order takeout food. Above, Kelly arrives at the Leighton Courthouse for his status hearing in relation to the sex abuse allegations made against him on May 7, 2019 in Chicago. Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Navarro's testimony bolstered the government's contention that Kelly controlled everything around him and created an environment where girls and women who entered the space faced strict rules that gave them little choice but to submit to the singer's sexual whims.

Being at the mansion "was almost like the Twilight Zone," Navarro said. "It's just a strange place."

Navarro told jurors that he never witnessed Kelly sexually abuse his victims as alleged at the trial that began earlier this week in federal court in Brooklyn, New York.

Navarro, who was trained as an audio engineer, spent much of his time doing menial chores for Kelly like driving visitors to and from his home.

"Mainly it was girls who were coming to the studio," he said.

It was the third day of testimony at a trial expected to last several weeks for a singer who became famous during a 30-year career through hits like "I Believe I Can Fly," a 1996 song that became an inspirational anthem.

Kelly, 54, has denied the accusations and his lawyers have portrayed him as a victim of women who targeted him after the emergence of the #MeToo movement brought a new look at the relationship between celebrities and their fans.

The women's stories got wide exposure with the Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly. The series explored how an entourage of supporters protected Kelly and silenced his victims for decades, foreshadowing the federal racketeering conspiracy case that landed Kelly in jail in 2019.

Courtroom Sketch R. Kelly
The jury for R. Kelly's sex-trafficking trial heard testimony on August 20 that the singer forced female visitors to get his permission to order food or to leave. In this courtroom artist's sketch made from a video screen monitor of a Brooklyn courtroom, defendant R. Kelly, top left, listens as Jerhonda Pace, far left, testifies against the R&B star during the singer's sex abuse trial, August 18 in New York. Elizabeth Williams via AP