The teenage girl whose alleged sexual relationship with the singer R. Kelly led to child pornography charges against the singer in 2008 testified Thursday that the singer began having sex with her when she was 15 and he was in his 30s and continued to do so “hundreds” of times before she turned 18.
The girl, who is now 37 and being identified by the pseudonym Jane in court, is the prosecution’s star witness in Kelly’s federal trial on child pornography and obstruction of justice charges.
Kelly, whose legal name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, is being tried alongside his former business manager, Derrel McDavid, and associate, Milton “June” Brown. They are both accused of conspiring with Kelly to intimidate and bribe witnesses and cover up evidence in his 2008 criminal trial in Cook County, which involved a video recording of him allegedly sexually abusing a minor.
On Thursday, Jane testified that she was the person who appeared in that video with Kelly. She did not testify in the 2008 trial, and, at the time, her parents repeatedly denied she was the girl in the recording. Kelly was acquitted. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Jane testified Thursday that she had sex with the disgraced singer “hundreds” of times from age 15 to 18. Under questioning from prosecutors, she said she did so because she was intimidated by him and considered him an “authoritative figure.”
Jane also testified that she first met Kelly when she was 12 or 13 years old at a church gospel concert.
“He was a superstar,” she said. “I was excited to meet him. I knew who he was as an artist and I aspire to be in the music industry.”
The second time she met him, Jane testified, was through an introduction from her aunt after an event where Jane’s music group had performed. Her aunt, Stephanie “Sparkle” Edwards, a singer who recorded a song with Kelly in 1998, was in a romantic relationship with him at the time, Jane said.
“After my show, he was telling me how great of a job I did and he gave me pointers to handle the stage,” Jane testified. “It was great to hear from such a successful person that I was gifted.”
Soon after, she said, she started seeing him more at his home studio with Edwards, who told her she should ask him to be her godfather if she wanted her music career to advance.
Edwards, Jane testified, told her that she “should sit on his lap, rub his head and ask him if he will play that role for me and my life.”
Jane, who was 14 at the time, said the relationship turned sexual within weeks of that day, beginning with phone sex and progressing to oral sex. She testified that she was 15 when they first had intercourse.
Because he was her godfather, she said, her parents didn’t ask him any questions and felt comfortable with her staying at his house and spending time in the studio because they thought they were making music together.
“When he became my godfather, it was normal for me to be with him without my aunt there,” Jane said.
At Kelly’s request, she also recruited friends from school to join them for sex.
“I considered myself a submissive person and I wanted to give him what he wanted,” she said.
Jane said Kelly told her to keep the relationship a secret and told her to remain “loyal” to him.
She admitted to lying to a grand jury and to police about the relationship to protect Kelly and and to keep from her parents to find.
“I was going to take that to my grave,” she said.
When her parents found out about the relationship when the video was released, Jane said, her father erupted in anger at Kelly. But they eventually acquiesced to Kelly’s plan to deny that Jane was in the video because they feared they would lose her, she said.
Jane said she decided to come forward a few years ago because she “became exhausted with living with his lies.”
Jane testified on the second day of witness testimony in the trial, which began Monday with jury selection. She will return to the stand Friday under cross examination.
Prosecutor Jason Julien said Wednesday that Kelly had sex with minors on numerous occasions, recorded many of the alleged assaults on VHS tapes and then paid people who knew about the recordings to keep quiet when he faced criminal charges of child pornography in 2008.
Julien said Kelly had a “dark side” and kept a “hidden world” behind his fame and status.
Kelly is currently serving a 30-year prison sentence after being convicted last year in New York City on charges of federal racketeering and sex trafficking.
Kelly’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, told jurors during opening statements Wednesday that they will have to decide whether they believe the accusers and witnesses to be credible, pointing out that Jane had previously denied that she was the person in the video with Kelly.