Content warning: This article discusses the alleged sexual abuse of a minor.
A woman has identified herself as the underage girl in the footage that formed the basis of R. Kelly‘s child pornography trial in the 2000s, telling a courtroom she was repeatedly sexually abused by the singer while she was a minor.
As the Chicago Tribune reports, the woman appeared in a Chicago federal court on Thursday (August 18) to give testimony in the disgraced R&B singer’s current trial, in which he is charged with 13 counts of production of child pornography, conspiracy to produce child pornography and conspiracy to obstruct justice. The singer has denied all accusations.
Identified only as Jane, the woman told the court that she was 14 years old when she first had sexual contact with Kelly – whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly – after meeting him approximately a year earlier. When she turned 15, the sex acts allegedly escalated to intercourse, and they had sex “hundreds” of times following that.
Jane, now 37 years old, told the court that sometimes those sexual interactions would include other underage girls, at Kelly’s request. Two of those women, a schoolmate of Jane’s identified with the pseudonym Pinky, and a woman whose pseudonym is Brittany, are also expected to testify in the trial along with two other unnamed accusers.
When Jane took the stand on Thursday, it was the first time she’d publicly testified that it was her in videos that show Kelly allegedly engaging in sex acts with an underage girl. These were reportedly filmed in the late 1990s, when Jane was 14-years-old. In one of the videos, Jane and Kelly are seen having oral sex in the living room of his home in Lakeview, she claimed, before Kelly urinates on her.
In a separate video from the same period, Kelly can be seen handing the girl money. When asked why this was, Jane replied: “Because if anyone saw the tape… he wanted it to appear like I was a prostitute.”
The footage first emerged in 2002, when it was anonymously mailed to reporter Jim DeRogatis, with the Chicago Sun-Times breaking the story. Kelly was charged with making child pornography that year, but Chicago police had begun investigating Jane and Kelly’s relationship two years earlier. At the time, she denied to police that her and Kelly had any inappropriate relationship.
In April of 2002, Jane again refused to testify against Kelly during the singer’s trial over charges relating to the video, lying to jurors and denying they had a sexual relationship, or that she was the girl in the videos. On Thursday, she said Kelly had coached her on what to say, allegedly emphasising “how strong and stern I had to be in denying our relationship and the sex tape”.
On Thursday, Jane testified that, prior to her taking the stand in 2002, Kelly had flown her and her parents out of the country so they were not accessible to investigators. She went on to say that upon their return, Kelly’s legal team pressured her to hand over evidence such as a necklace of hers that can be seen in the tape, which she did.
Jane said that while Kelly was awaiting trial, she moved into his mansion, where he allegedly became physically abusive – particularly when she tried to leave the residence. She ultimately moved out when she was approximately 23 or 24.
In 2008, Kelly was acquitted of all 14 counts by a Chicago jury, with Jane’s refusal to participate being a major contributing factor. “I was afraid to expose Robert. I also did not want that person to be me. I was ashamed,” she explained when asked why she lied under oath. Her cooperation with law enforcement in the current case comes in exchange for immunity from being prosecuted for perjury in relation to her earlier statements.
Thursday also saw retired Chicago police detective Daniel Everett, who first questioned Jane and her parents in 2000, called to the stand. He claimed that after seeing the sex tape footage, he recognised Jane from their previous conversations a year earlier.
Jane will return to the witness stand on Friday (August 19), when she will be cross-examined by Kelly’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean.
Kelly is one of three co-defendants in the current Chicago trial, along with his former business manager Derrel McDavid and Milton “June” Brown. It’s alleged the latter two men were involved with attempting to cover up Kelly’s years of alleged sexual abuse of underage girls. All three have pleaded not guilty.
Kelly’s trial in Chicago comes after he was sentenced to 30 years in prison in June, following his conviction by a federal jury in New York last year, on separate charges of sex trafficking and racketeering. He and his team are appealing the verdict of that case.