Content warning: This story contains discussion and descriptions of sexual abuse
A second woman has testified in court against R. Kelly, alleging that the disgraced singer forced her to have sex with another man as punishment for having broken one of his “rules”.
The New York Times reported August 24 that the woman, who identified herself using the pseudonym Jane, delivered over three hours of testimony over two days in Kelly’s ongoing criminal trial in Brooklyn. She reportedly told jurors that she was instructed to “put on something skimpy” and have sex with a man Kelly referred to as ‘Nephew’.
“He wanted me to please ‘Nephew’ the same way I would please him,” Jane said. “He basically talked us through every single thing to do.”
It’s alleged that Kelly – real name Robert Sylvester Kelly – recorded Jane’s interactions with ‘Nephew’ on an iPad, forcing her to have sex with him on multiple occasions, some of which Kelly would join. When a prosecutor asked Jane if she consented to her encounters with ‘Nephew’, she responded: “Never.”
Jane reportedly met Kelly at age 17, with their interactions lasting until she was 21. As Jane is currently aged 23, this would place the described allegations between 2014 and 2019.
The Times reports that Kelly’s interactions with Jane continued amid his controversy unfolding as the #MeToo movement gathered steam, with Kelly allegedly instructing Jane – alongside several other women and girls he lived with – to “immediately change the channel” if the Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly was to show up on TV.
Jane reportedly defended Kelly during their time together, including in a 2019 interview with Gayle King of CBS This Morning after Kelly was charged with ten counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. Jane told jurors that Kelly would often make her rehearse answers to questions she was likely to be asked.
As Reuters reports, Kelly’s lawyer, Deveraux Cannick, cast doubt over Jane’s allegation that Kelly pressured her to have sex with him when she was 17. Cannick reportedly asked: “After being violated, outraged and devastated, you flew out to meet him?” She responded that she had and did not tell anybody about the encounter.
It’s reported that at one point during the testimony, Cannick suggested that Kelly’s relationship with the women he lived with functioned as a “family” – a claim which Jane denied, saying: “I wouldn’t call it a family now.”
Cannick also had Jane read aloud letters that she is alleged to have written to Kelly while he was imprisoned following his 2019 arrest. She purportedly wrote in one that she would continue to support Kelly, saying there were “no bad feelings” between them.
Jane is the second woman to testify publicly against Kelly, after Jerhonda Pace alleged last week that Kelly abused her as a 16-year-old.
Following delays owing to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Kelly’s trial began in Brooklyn last week, and is expected to last several more. Other witnesses expected 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 faces a total of 22 charges relating to alleged crimes against six accusers – three of whom were purportedly underage at the time – alleging physical, sexual and psychological abuse. Prosecutors are also alleging that Kelly ran a racketeering enterprise from 1994 up until his 2019 arrest, 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.
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.
Earlier this week, an ex-tour manager for Kelly claimed during the trial that he paid a government worker for a fake ID so Kelly could marry an underage Aaliyah.