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Faith Rodgers Recalls R. Kelly’s ‘Childish’ Behavior During Her Trial Testimony

Rodgers. Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Faith Rodgers, one of the five women
R. Kelly was convicted of abusing, said the singer exhibited “childish” behavior when she testified against him at his Brooklyn federal-court trial. Rodgers’s comments about Kelly’s courtroom demeanor came during a press conference Friday, the first time she has spoken out since he was found guilty on all counts of racketeering and sexual abuse on September 27. Rodgers’s attorney, Gloria Allred, and her parents joined her.

“He [kept mimicking] piano fingers. It was really irritating,” Rodgers recalled. “But I knew that in that courtroom, I had to have a poker face on.”

Rodgers was referring to the day Kelly grooved along to his own music in court. During their questioning of Rodgers, prosecutors provided documents and other evidence to back up her sexual-abuse claims, some of which included showing videos that he had taken of her to the jury. Neither the press nor public, watching from separate viewing rooms, could see the videos, but brief snippets of his music were audible. And as Kelly’s music played, he moved his head up and down, then did some sort of air piano with his fingers.

“For somebody that says they can’t read or write, and you start acting like you can write, or you act like you’re doing some type of work … I knew he was trying to throw me off and make me kind of shake up a little bit,” she said. (Kelly’s lawyers have claimed that he is illiterate, but there were times when he handled a notebook.)

“So that behavior was very — I would say — childish and not appropriate for court,” said Rodgers, 24. “I was not at all pleased with his behavior, but I feel like everything that he is is why he is where he is.”

Kelly was convicted on nine counts — one of racketeering and eight of violating the Mann Act. The Mann Act is a statute that bars transporting people across state lines for illegal sexual activity. Kelly’s charges were in relation to Rodgers and five other women: Jerhonda Pace, Jane, Stephanie, Sonja, and Aaliyah. The jury found that Kelly committed crimes against all of them except Sonja.

Rodgers, who is from Texas, met Kelly in March 2017, when she was 19, while attending one of his concerts with her sister. Faith testified that two young ladies wearing shirts that read “Staff” came up to them and said he was having an after-party backstage. There, Kelly gave Faith his number. He contacted her with texts, calls, and FaceTimes and ultimately arranged for her to come to a show of his in New York in May 2017. On the witness stand, Rodgers said that Kelly pressured her into sex in her hotel room during that first trip. “I told him I wasn’t ready for sex,” she testified. “He says, ‘Well, I’m at my best when I’m wanted.’ It was like a poke. He, like, literally spread me open — it felt like I was being examined by an OB/GYN. I was just kind of like, Ugh, I don’t know how to react to that. I said, ‘Are you going to use a condom?’ He said, ‘I don’t need a condom.’” Rodgers said that Kelly once coerced her into performing oral sex on him with a firearm nearby during another trip.

Rodgers testified that she got sick a few days after their last sexual encounter, in February 2018, and was diagnosed with herpes shortly thereafter.

“Once I had got back to San Antonio, maybe like three days [later], I was coming down with a cold. On the fourth day of having a cold, my mouth had bumps everywhere. My mouth was inflamed with bumps,” she said in court.

“I knew it was him,” Rodgers recalled of her herpes diagnosis during testimony.

During Friday’s press conference, Rodgers also slammed Bill Cosby’s spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, over a recent interview in which Wyatt said Cosby thought the R&B singer got “railroaded” at trial. Cosby’s 2018 sexual-assault conviction was overturned by Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court this summer; NBC News reported that “prosecutorial mistakes” were given as the reason for the court’s reversal.

Wyatt said Cosby felt like Kelly “was screwed” and “wasn’t going to catch a break,” though Wyatt later claimed he was expressing his own opinion, not Cosby’s.

“As the publicist of Mr. Cosby, I have the right to my opinion and my opinion is not a reflection of Mr. Cosby’s,” Wyatt said in a statement posted to Cosby’s Instagram account. “Yes, I feel that Robert Kelly was railroaded and those were my words, not the words of Mr. Cosby. I will continue to reflect my views because the 1st Amendment allows me the same privileges as the media. Thank you very much.”

On Friday, Rodgers responded, “It was disheartening to see, even years and a second trial later, that the abuser — my abuser, and the abuser of many women — is being held up as a victim and even considered to be railroaded.” She continued, “To me, that term is beyond insulting. R. Kelly did receive a fair trial. And he was convicted based on that. He was not railroaded.”

Describing her reaction to Kelly’s guilty verdict, Rodgers said she got a call from her mom and a flurry of “congratulations.” It was exciting, Rodgers said, “but that one call or that one text doesn’t make everything … worth it.” But the conviction does vindicate her testimony, she noted. “I no longer have to explain myself. Facts are facts.”

“So that’s weight off my chest,” she added.

Rodgers said that when Kelly is sentenced in May, “hopefully by then maybe he’ll have some type of remorse.” He showed “a lot of arrogance” in the courtroom, she continued, “so what I would like to see at that time is a little bit of remorse and accountability.”

A reporter asked her what she would like to say to R. Kelly.

“I have nothing to say to him.”

Would she like to hear an apology?

“The apology is he’s been convicted.”

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Faith Rodgers Calls R. Kelly’s Courtroom Behavior ‘Childish’