A key witness in the latest trial against R Kelly has said the R&B singer had sex with her “hundreds” of times before she turned 18 years old, starting when she was 15.
Giving evidence under the pseudonym Jane, she said she first met Kelly when she was about 13 at a recording studio in the late 1990s. She said her aunt was a professional singer who worked with Kelly.
She said shortly afterwards she had asked Kelly to be her godfather because she saw him as an inspiration and mentor, but within weeks of that she alleges he would call her and say sexual things.
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The Grammy award-winning singer – who is currently serving a 30-year prison sentence for his conviction in New York this year on federal charges that he used his fame to sexually abuse fans – is now on trial for child pornography and obstruction of justice charges in his hometown of Chicago.
The most serious charge against him is conspiracy to obstruct justice by allegedly rigging a 2008 trial on state child pornography charges stemming from a purported video of him and Jane having sex when she was underage.
Kelly is accused of both bribing and threatening Jane to ensure that she did not testify at that trial and paying for her family to travel to the Bahamas and Cancun, Mexico. Jane did not testify, and Kelly was ultimately acquitted.
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- R Kelly
He is also standing trial on charges of producing child pornography and enticing minors for sex.
Jane told the court Kelly first touched her breasts and other parts of her body when she was around 14 at a Chicago recording studio, and that around that time, he “started penetration” at his home at his North Side Chicago home.
She told jurors she was 15 when they first had intercourse. Kelly, 55, would have been about 30 years old at the time.
Asked by a prosecutor how she would know what to do sexually, Jane answered: “He would tell me what to do.”
Asked how many times they had sex before she turned 18, she answered quietly: “Uncountable times… Hundreds.”
She described her upbringing in a musical family in a Chicago suburb, including that she was home-schooled because she was in a touring musical group that she joined when she was about 12.
Prosecutors have said Kelly shot the video at the centre of the 2008 trial-rigging charge in a log cabin-themed room at his North Side Chicago home between 1998 and 2000. In it, the girl – who prosecutors say is Jane – is heard calling the man “daddy”.
Federal prosecutors say that she and Kelly had sex hundreds of times over the years in his homes, recording studios and tour buses.
Kelly rose from poverty on Chicago’s South Side to become a star singer, songwriter and producer, and prosecutors say he fixed the 2008 trial in a bid to protect his career from total destruction.
The court has also heard that before the 2008 trial, Kelly carried a duffle bag full of sex tapes everywhere he went. Court filings say some tapes later went missing.
In the 2000s, bootleg copies of some videos appeared on street corners throughout the US.
Kelly – who also faces four counts of enticement of minors for sex – denies any wrongdoing.
The singer has been trailed for decades by complaints and allegations about his sexual behaviour. The scrutiny intensified after the #MeToo era and the 2019 six-part documentary Surviving R Kelly.
Two of Kelly’s associates, Derrel McDavid and Milton Brown, are co-defendants in the case. They also deny wrongdoing.