TW: This post contains graphic details of sexual assault and domestic violence.
After luring a 17-year-old into his orbit under false pretenses of nurturing her music career, R. Kelly sexually assaulted her, made a point of degrading her during their encounters, and ultimately infected the girl with herpes, she alleged Monday in the singer’s Brooklyn federal sex-crimes and racketeering trial. (She did not use her real name in court and is identified in court documents only as “Jane Doe 5.”)
“I was 17,” the woman said, bursting into tears shortly before she detailed her diagnosis.
The woman, now 23, said she met Kelly at a concert in Orlando, Florida, in April 2015, when she was a junior in high school. A member of his entourage had given her a wristband that got her closer to the stage. She wound up remaining in a relationship with Kelly for five years, she said.
“When he performed his second set, someone from his entourage did come to me and [gave] me a sheet of paper and said, ‘Don’t tell anyone.’ It said ‘Rob’ and had a number.” The then-teen wound up giving her mother the piece of paper. In the days following the show, she realized she had the wrong phone number.
She went into her mom’s phone, and Kelly’s number was there. The two had exchanged texts. “My mother was acting as me,” the woman said, saying her mother had told Kelly about her music.
The alleged victim, who now had the right phone number, started communicating with Kelly directly. He invited her to a hotel near Orlando “to audition” a few days after the concert. She went to the hotel — with her parents’ knowledge — and Kelly instructed her to meet him in his van, which was parked outside. They were alone.
“He had asked me to sit on his lap. I asked him if he was sure. He said yes,” she recalled. “I did.”
Kelly asked for a kiss, she testified. She didn’t necessarily want to give him one, but he urged her to give him just a little peck. About five minutes later, someone knocked on the door of the van and said it was time to go upstairs.
Kelly allegedly said that “before the audition, he needed to come.” She rebuffed his entreaties but wound up having to walk back and forth in her panties and a bra. Eventually, he engaged in some oral contact with her buttocks, she alleged.
“There was a knock on the door. He got up, and he went to the door and he saw it was officers at the door,” the woman said. “He was very anxious and scared. After he looked through the peephole, he said, ‘Are you 18?’ I said yes.” There does not appear to be any indication that Kelly knew her true age at the time.
He told her to go to the bathroom and get dressed and not to leave the restroom. Kelly allegedly spoke to the officers, and she exited the restroom. They told her that her parents had been looking for her but couldn’t get in touch. “I had to call my parents in front of them and let them know I was okay.” She showed the officers her ID, which would have said she was 17 years old.
They left, handing Kelly a card, and told him “anytime he was in Orlando and needed security to let them know.”
After that alleged encounter, the woman said the illicit sexual relationship progressed, with Kelly flying her across the country to places where he had concerts, paying for her accommodations, and engaging in still more unlawful behavior, including sexual intercourse. (Her mother knew she was traveling to his concerts, but there is no indication from the alleged victim’s testimony that the mother was aware of the alleged abuse.) He “made me crawl back and forth” during their encounters, the woman said. Kelly, who would ejaculate on her face, used that as a tool of shame, she alleged.
“There would be times when he would make me leave it on my face,” she said. Once, after doing that, “he told me not to wash it off and to let it harden.” He then called an associate into the room and “had an entire conversation with her.”
“I recall them laughing, and I felt very much humiliated,” she claimed.
Later, in the summer of 2015 when she was in Chicago, she started to feel physically unwell.
“Every single time we would have vaginal penetration, I would have discomfort,” she said. “Initially, he would joke and say it’s just because he’s ‘too big size-wise.’”
“It got worse … it got to the point where I physically couldn’t even walk.”
Kelly had a female associate, identified in court as “Juice,” take her to a doctor.
“She said that I had contracted an STD — herpes,” she said of the doctor. “Vaginal herpes.”
She was prescribed medications, and “Juice” took her to a pharmacy in downtown Chicago to pick them up.
“I was devastated,” she said. “I had told him, and he was agitated and said, ‘You could have gotten that from anyone.’”
“I told him I had only been intimate with him,” she said, saying she thought he had “purposely” given her herpes.
The prosecutor asked whether Kelly had ever disclosed a herpes diagnosis.
“He never did,” she recalled.
Whenever she would have an outbreak, “he would usually make, like, a joke.”
“Everybody has it, no big deal,” she recalled him allegedly saying.
She continued to endure outbreaks.
“I think your p- - -y is broken,” she alleged Kelly had said.
Toward the end of the summer, when she had to return to high school, she told Kelly her true age while they were at a Chicago park.
“He slapped me in my face with an open palm, and he walked away,” she said. She tried to avoid the van they had come to the park in. Eventually, Kelly came up to her in a conciliatory manner. “He gave me a kiss and said we would figure this out.”
“Juice,” who was present when the girl revealed her age, told her that Kelly feared she was going to reveal something “ten times worse.”
Kelly told the girl she needed to return to Florida as soon as possible, while he discussed the situation of her age with his attorneys. They settled upon a plan in which she could return to Chicago under the guise of pursuing her music career. Kelly said she would need to be homeschooled, and they convinced her parents to let her do so. When they agreed, she packed her suitcases and returned to Illinois.
As her time with Kelly continued, she claims she endured routine physical abuse as punishment for breaking his rules — which included requirements about what she wore, whom she communicated with, and what she said.
“In 2015, the defendant had introduced me to what he called ‘chastising’ — spanking,” she said. The woman learned what Kelly meant by “chastising,” in Atlanta in 2015.
“He said that it was just a spanking to help me remember [the rules],” she said.
“I would get chastised nearly every two-to-three days,” she said of the alleged beating, which involved an open palm. “He would leave bruises, and sometimes it would make my skin tear.”
(At one point in their relationship, Kelly also allegedly punished her by making her touch excrement, and she had to record this.)
Once, after an associate of Kelly sent him a text listing her name — with a photo of a rat — he told her that she “had 30 seconds to be honest.” She said she had been texting with a friend but did not disclose to Kelly the extent of their exchange — namely, that she had discussed her sexual encounters with the singer.
“He began to hit me, and in between it he would ask me, ‘Are you ready to be honest?’” she said. Kelly, she alleged, was hitting her with an open palm and a closed fist.
“He went into his closet and grabbed an Air Force 1. He continued to hit me until I finally broke. He hit me all over with the shoe.”
She tried to fight back but couldn’t.
Prosecutors asked about her size and Kelly’s.
“I’m four-11; I was about 98 pounds,” she said. “He’s six foot.”
She ultimately became one of Kelly’s five live-in girlfriends, saying they mostly resided at one of his homes in Atlanta.
In 2017, she got pregnant. Kelly did not want her to have the baby.
“He had expressed that he still wanted me to keep my body tight,” she remembered him allegedly commenting. Kelly told her he wanted to start a family after he got rid of his other girlfriends.
The prosecution asked whether she had gotten an abortion.
One of Kelly’s assistants made the appointment and drove her there, she said.
The prosecution then asked whether she had wanted to get an abortion.
“I did not.”
When her testimony resumed on Tuesday, the woman additionally accused Kelly of making her have sex with another male, referred to as “Nephew,” because she had told Kelly that she was having conversations with the other girlfriends in violation of his rules. (She also said on Monday that Kelly made her have sex with his other girlfriends and women in his circle.)
After chastising the woman and two other girlfriends in the master bedroom of his tour bus — allegedly hitting each of them 15 times, then striking the woman some more — Kelly allegedly said “he’d think of a punishment.”
“He said that I would be meeting with somebody by the name of ‘Nephew,’” she continued. Kelly told her to go up to a room in the hotel where they were staying, “put on something skimpy,” and let him know when she was ready.
“He had mentioned ‘Nephew’ a few times,” she recalled. “He said that he had been grooming ‘Nephew’ since he was young.”
In the room, Kelly directed how the woman and “Nephew” should engage in sexual contact. Kelly was naked and recording their interaction, she testified.
Asked if she wanted to have an encounter with “Nephew,” she said “never.”
“Why did you?” prosecutors then asked.
“It was a punishment,” she said. If she hadn’t, “I would probably be left somewhere for a long time.”
“There were a few occasions when defendant made us be intimate,” she said of “Nephew.”
The woman also described how Kelly had allegedly used psychological manipulation to keep the girlfriends close to him.
“He would say that we were basically worthless and that we did not mean anything to them,” she said of Kelly’s comments about the girlfriends’ parents. “He would basically say that they had sold us to him … given us to him.”
Kelly would also say of their parents that “they did not care for us and that we were in a better situation.”
Kelly allegedly told her that an associate of his had “given my parents a few bricks in exchange for me.” (The woman did not provide testimony indicating that her parents had accepted drugs in exchange for giving her to Kelly; she also did not provide testimony indicating that they knew about the abuse.)
The woman said that her parents’ questions eventually led to her being prohibited from communicating with them. “Eventually, I could not talk to them at all because they would want to know about my well-being,” she said.
Prosecutors asked whether she knew about Surviving R. Kelly, the documentary series chronicling the many allegations against him. “He did let us know ahead of time that there was a documentary coming out about him,” she replied. Kelly told his girlfriends that “everything was false” and that he had contacted his attorneys. Although the women didn’t speak in his defense just then, Kelly demanded to know whether they would if the time came. They said yes. He also had them practice responding to questions the media might pose to them.
The woman then described her appearance on TV as part of Gayle King’s March 2019 interview with Kelly. She appeared with one other woman; by that time, the two were the only live-in girlfriends who remained in relationships with him.
“Were you truthful when you spoke to Gayle King?”
“I was not,” she said.
Kelly was present during the women’s sit-down with King and made them aware that he was watching what they said.
“He did a cough that he usually does … he was just letting us know that he was in the room,” she recalled.
In the summer of 2019, the woman said she stopped living with Kelly for a period. Kelly was arrested in July of that year on federal racketeering and sex-crimes charges. The woman said she left Kelly in October 2019.
Prosecutors then asked the woman whether, during the course of their five years together, Kelly had taken any steps to help with her music career — what he had promised when she was just 17.
“None,” she replied.
During cross-examination, Kelly’s lawyer Deveraux Cannick tried to undermine the woman’s claims that her involvement with Kelly had been coercive. His questions suggested that the woman’s parents had motives behind letting her spend time with the singer. Cannick asked whether she had gone onstage and danced at the 2015 concert where she met Kelly when she was 17.
“You eventually got onstage, is that correct?”
She replied no.
“You didn’t go onstage and twerk on the speaker?”
“I danced on the speaker, yes,” she said.
“What kind of dancing?” Cannick pressed. “Did you twerk?”
“I was moving my body just like everybody else,” she said.
“But when you were moving your body just like everybody else, you were twerking, weren’t you?” he said, his voice growing louder.
“Yes, I was,” she said.
After she and Kelly started interacting, Cannick said, “your parents proposed a number of business deals to Mr. Kelly, isn’t that right? One included a Bluetooth dildo?”
“That is correct,” she said.
“The feature of this dildo was that when it was in use, it would sync to his music?”
She replied in the affirmative but said Kelly did not want to endorse that idea. He told her parents to “give him a proposal,” she said. He did not reject it outright to their faces, but “he did confide in me later” that it was not something he wanted to be involved with.
On Wednesday, during cross-examination, Cannick brought up letters that the woman had written to her family, in which she made allegations that their intentions were negative when it came to her interactions with R. Kelly. Cannick also brought up the letters to maintain that she had written about her affection for Kelly.
In one letter to her parents, she wrote: “I will forever be deeply in love with Robert … I love this man,” and told them that they wouldn’t have any problems with their interaction if he had given them work.
“When I was 17, you were telling me to take as many pictures and videos with [him] as possible, so you could blackmail him,” she wrote in the letter.
She also told them that they “pushed” her into interactions with Kelly. “You really made me feel like a ho and a prostitute,” she also wrote. “You wanted me to be alone with him.” She also wrote that her parents had told Kelly, “Since you’re f—g my daughter, you need to send $10,000 to this bank account every month.”
On redirect, when prosecutors could ask the woman about these letters, they asked about the circumstances under which she wrote them. Prosecutors have contended that Kelly’s alleged victims were made to provide “collateral” — including letters with false allegations that could damage them — to protect him, and keep them under his control.
The woman testified that “other girlfriends made me write those letters” at Kelly’s direction. Kelly “told me exactly what to write.” The letters, she was told, would “go to his attorney” and “never see the light of day.”
“It was to protect the defendant,” she said, saying the reasoning for the letters was Kelly’s prior legal issues. “An attorney had told him to have every girlfriend [write] to protect him …”
She said the claims in the letters were fabricated, and that her family never saw them.
This story is developing and will be updated accordingly.
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