During the third week of testimony in R. Kelly’s Brooklyn federal court trial, prosecutors called more witnesses to support their argument that his alleged sexual abuse of girls, boys, and young women reflects an organized criminal enterprise, not just serial sick behavior. The testimony built more on Kelly’s purported patterns in allegedly contacting and grooming his accusers, with the help of his professional and personal associates. Some of this testimony also bolstered their allegation that Kelly was an unapologetic “predator,” as they argued in their opening statement.
On Monday, a woman who went by “Addie” alleged that R. Kelly coerced her into sexual intercourse when she was just 17, in his dressing room following a show about 26 years ago. This woman was the fourth accuser to take the stand. She said that the alleged assault was on September 2, 1994; that’s a mere two days after R. Kelly, who was 27 at the time, illegally married Aaliyah, who was 15 years old.
Addie testified that the alleged encounter happened after Kelly’s concert in Miami on that day. A friend of her mother, who worked at an area radio station, got VIP tickets to the Budweiser Superfest. Addie’s mom gave these tickets to her and the teen’s 19-year-old friend.
Several men approached them after the show, asking if they’d like to get an autograph. Post-show, Kelly had announced on stage that “women could come backstage,” so long as they were 18. The men neither asked for their age nor identifications. The teens were ultimately escorted into Kelly’s dressing room.
“I told him I wasn’t sure I was even allowed to be in the room, because I was 17 years old,” she recalled. “He didn’t respond about my age.” However, Kelly chatted with one of the bouncers. Everyone except Addie and her friend were escorted out of the room, and “they told us to stay.” The encounter quickly turned sexual, even though she had told Kelly that she was a minor.
Following a “kissing game” with the teens, Addie testified, “He started getting a little more aggressive and basically kind of moved toward the back of the room.” He was “holding my wrists and unzipped my pants.”
“He sort of guided me to the back of the room,” she testified. “He had sex with me unprotected.”
Kelly tried taking the hand of Addie’s best friend “to try to make her participate, but she refused.” When Kelly finished, Addie pulled up her shorts. The teens unlocked the dressing room door and ran.
Around an hour after Addie’s testimony, a male accuser who went by Louis testified, alleging that Kelly engaged in abusive sexual contact with him at age 17. He is the first male to publicly make sexual-misconduct accusations against Kelly.
After meeting at a Chicago McDonald’s drive-through, where Louis worked, in 2006, he received Kelly’s phone number. Louis, who wanted to be a musician, gave this paper to his mom. The teen eventually attended a party at R. Kelly’s Olympia Fields, Illinois, home with his parents, then returned another time, alone, to work on music with Kelly and a production tech.
When Louis arrived at Kelly’s home studio on another occasion, Kelly met Louis and they went into the detached garage, which had a boxing ring.
“We sat around and talked for a while,” Louis claimed. “He just asked me: What was I willing to do for the music?”
Louis recalled rattling off “crazy” tasks, including “I’ll carry your bags.” Kelly “just kept saying, ‘No, that’s not it.’” He allegedly asked Louis whether he had any fantasies.
“I said, I got fantasies. I told him I had fantasies of two or three girls at one time,” Louis said. “He said, ‘You ever had a fantasy about a man?’ I said no. He crawled down on his knees and proceeded to give me oral sex.”
“I said I didn’t like it, I wasn’t into it,” Louis stated. Kelly ended this encounter. “He just told me, ‘Keep it between me and him. We’re family now. We’re brothers.’”
Louis kept going to parties hosted by Kelly after that alleged incident. He claimed that Kelly recorded their sexual interactions. Kelly told Louis to call him “Daddy.” As their sexual relations continued, Louis claimed, “He called me a brother, his little brother.’” It’s not clear when they stopped having sexual encounters. But, Louis said they were in contact until at least 2018. He described their relationship at that time as “more of a friendship” that mostly involved playing basketball.
A shocking twist in Louis’s testimony attested to Kelly’s alleged sway over those in his circle, including those whom he’s accused of victimizing. Louis said that he was one of the Kelly associates arrested in the past two years. Louis said that he offered money to a possible witness against Kelly. He did say that Kelly was not involved in the attempted bribe. Louis pleaded guilty to attempted bribery.
On Wednesday, a woman named Faith said that she met Kelly at a concert in San Antonio in March 2017, when she was 19. Faith accompanied her 36-year-old sister — an R. Kelly fan — to the concert. They wound up backstage, given wristbands by two “young ladies.”
In the dressing room, Kelly slipped Faith a piece of paper with two phone numbers and instructed her, “Don’t make a big deal about it … don’t tell anyone.” Kelly also allegedly told Faith to text him a photo of herself with her name “so he wouldn’t forget.” Faith did so. She noticed a text from Kelly the next morning. They started corresponding, gradually building up to FaceTime. He lavished her with compliments and told her “I love you” their first week of knowing each other. Kelly invited her to visit him and she went to New York in May 2017. Faith hesitantly had sex with him, she alleged.
Kelly asked her to visit him several more times, increasingly ramping up his allegedly abusive behavior. Faith said that this came to a crux during a January 2018 visit to Los Angeles, when he frightened her into giving him oral sex. He called Faith into a closet-size room at a recording studio and allegedly harangued her about interactions with other men, with a gun nearby.
The last time Faith saw Kelly was in Manhattan, in February 2018. She told the jury that she wanted to see how her visit would be, because of the alleged encounter in California. Kelly tried to engage in sexual intercourse with her, but she “clenched,” so he couldn’t. Kelly allegedly went into the other room to masturbate and then fell asleep. When she saw notification after notification appear on his phone — for a group text, which included a participant named “Mamma Bear” — she thought: I didn’t want to be a part of this.
Kelly woke up when his assistant knocked on his hotel-suite door. Faith called him out, saying he allegedly trying to give her constructive criticism about their encounter. He allegedly retorted: “I’m a fucking legend. I’m not one of those n- - - - s you fuck with.” Kelly and the assistant left. Faith also left, and returned home to Texas. Faith alleged that within days of returning home, she got sick and developed blisters in her mouth. Faith went to a clinic and was diagnosed with herpes. She said that Kelly never told her he had herpes and that he never used protection. “I knew it was him,” she said. Like other accusers, Faith said that Kelly’s assistant coordinated her travel, and that he covered the costs.
Law-enforcement officials also testified about gathering and processing evidence against Kelly. Agents described how they seized and reviewed devices that allegedly belonged to Kelly, which contained text and video relating to witness testimony about his communications with them. A forensics expert also said semen from a shirt matched R. Kelly’s DNA, as the chances that this genetic material belongs to someone else are a near statistical impossibility. That shirt belonged to Jerhonda Pace, who accused Kelly of sexually abusing her starting when she was 16 years old.
Prosecutors also elicited more testimony from witnesses that, while not necessarily as watershed as accusers’ statements, was no less corroborative. One of these witnesses was Nathan Edmond, the pastor who officiated Kelly’s illegal 1994 wedding to 15-year-old Aaliyah. Edmond, who in addition to being a pastor worked in real estate, said that an associate he knew from the mortgage business was a friend of Kelly’s. The friend called him one day and “asked me to do him a favor.” That favor was officiating Kelly’s wedding. Edmond said he had neither met Kelly nor Aaliyah when he received the call; he also said that he didn’t know who they were nor did he know Aaliyah’s true age.
Edmond said that he went to a hotel room. A man in the room asked him to sign “what was to be a confidentiality agreement.”
“I looked at it, read it, and then I kind of chuckled.” The man who handed him the confidentiality agreement asked why he laughed. “I said it wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. If it was supposed to be an agreement, it should be a lot more airtight than that.”
Edmond was asked if he’d promise not to discuss the wedding. “Yeah, I’ll give you my word. I don’t know why, but I’ll give you my word.”
“They both had on what looked like matching jogging suits,” Edmond said of Kelly and Aaliyah’s wedding, with “one leg [rolled] up to the knee.” Edmond didn’t recall a lot about her demeanor. “You couldn’t see her whole face because her hair was over half her face.” The ceremony was “fairly standard,” and took about ten minutes. They offered Edmond about $25 or $50 for his services. He said no, because he was doing it as a favor.
“I didn’t think it was anybody special and I didn’t understand it at all,” he said. Edmond’s testimony corroborates two witnesses’ prior description of the rushed nuptials.
There was an unexpected development on Thursday, when one witness whom prosecutors called did not play ball with them. That witness, Alexis, said that she met Kelly at a Jacksonville, Florida, concert in 2006, when she was 15 years old, going on 16. Kelly gave Alexis his number. She met him at a local mall the next day, and they hung out on his tour bus. While they were alone on the bus, Alexis said they talked and nothing untoward happened. She told Kelly her age. “His general response was just, ‘There’s nothing wrong with platonic friendship, and if it turns into something over time, so be it.” Alexis said that she started traveling to see him when she was still a minor, but said she didn’t “really remember” her age during their first sexual encounter. Alexis described her visits to Chicago in positive terms. Kelly and his handlers got her “whatever I wanted.”
“They had a booklet, they called it ‘room service.’ You could order whatever you wanted from nearby restaurants,” she said of the food at Kelly’s suburban Chicago home. Alexis said that she did not want to testify. Kelly defense attorney Deveraux Cannick, who has conducted exhaustive cross-examinations of women called to testify, didn’t ask Alexis a single question.
On Friday morning, a woman who accused Kelly of giving her herpes took the stand. This woman, Kate, said that she was 27 when she met Kelly in Chicago in 2001, through a mutual friend. Kelly invited Kate to his studio and, on two occasions, tried to get her to engage in sex acts with him and at least one other woman. She declined. She and Kelly eventually had intercourse at a later date, and continued to see each other until 2004. Before their first time having intercourse, she told him, “I worried about multiple sexual partners and worried about the AIDS virus.”
“Prior to it, I had asked if he was going to wear something,” she recalled. “At first, he just kind of looked at me quizzically. I repeated it. I said, ‘Are you going to use something?’ He just said, ‘No.’”
“I had asked him if he was quote-unquote okay,” Kate continued, explaining that she meant if he was STI-free. Kelly’s response, she said, “was either a look or a no, I don’t recall the actual answer.” Kate said that she was diagnosed with herpes in 2001, after noticing a small bump in her “lower region.” Kate said that she and her lawyer brokered a $200,000 settlement with Kelly in 2004, because of the herpes he allegedly gave her. She admitted that she tried to see him after that settlement. On cross-examination, Kate said that he was “never” violent toward her and that he spoke softly even during disagreements.
Meanwhile, outside the courthouse on Friday, a Kelly supporter was arrested. The New York Police Department said this arrest was for alleged harassment, and unrelated to the trial.
Testimony will resume on Thursday, September 9, due to Labor Day and Rosh Hashanah.
More From This Series
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- Chicago Prosecutors to Drop Sex-Abuse Charges Against R. Kelly
- Surviving R. Kelly Claims Aaliyah’s Family Forced to Sign NDA After Annulment