Content warning: This story contains discussion and descriptions of sexual abuse
A woman has testified in court against R Kelly this week (August 19), alleging that he abused her as a minor.
Jerhonda Pace alleged that Kelly, real name Robert Sylvester Kelly, invited her back to his home when she was sixteen-years-old in 2009.
Pace, who was an avid fan and a member of an R. Kelly fan club on MySpace, alleged Kelly had multiple sexual encounters with her over the course of six months. Pace claimed Kelly invited her to his mansion and told her to take off her clothes, and said he was going to “train her” sexually.
While there, she alleges she was told to follow “Rob’s rules”, given instructions to call Kelly “Daddy” and wear baggy clothes to hide her figure. She also alleges she had to go to Kelly to ask permission to eat, use the bathroom or make phone calls.
At the start of her testimony, Pace was emotional and cried as she read from her journal. “Rob called me a silly b****,” she alleged. She went on to claim Kelly hit her several times before saying: “It’s not going to be an open hand next time.”
Pace further alleged that Kelly made her dress like a Girl Scout and videotaped their sexual encounters. In another alleged incident, Pace claimed Kelly was unhappy with her using a phone. “That’s when he slapped me and he choked me until I passed out,” Pace said. “When I woke up, I was on the floor.”
Pace is the first trial witness in the case, which is expected to last several weeks. Other witnesses expect to testify include multiple female accusers and one male accuser. Former associates who have never spoken before about their experiences with Kelly are also expected to testify.
Kelly was first taken into custody in early 2019 on 10 charges of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. He was later arrested again in July that year, after being indicted on a further 13 charges by federal officers.
The charges relate to Kelly’s alleged crimes against five female accusers – three of whom were purportedly underage at the time – who allege physical, sexual and psychological abuse.
Prosecutors are also alleging that Kelly ran a racketeering enterprise from 1994 up until his arrest in 2019, employing a network of managers, bodyguards and others to facilitate his alleged crimes.
Kelly, 54, has denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty to the nine charges in this case: one of racketeering and eight violations of the Mann Act, which criminalises the transportation of any woman or girl across state lines for “immoral” purposes, such as illegal sexual activity.
The trial has been delayed multiple times, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In February, US District Judge Ann Donnelly said a planned April 2021 date was “not realistic”, setting a new August date.
Kelly, who was moved from Chicago to Brooklyn for the trial, faces decades in prison if convicted. He is also concurrently facing other sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges.