NEW YORK (REUTERS) – A woman who said R. Kelly sexually abused her over their five-year relationship told jurors on Tuesday (Aug 24) that the R&B singer ordered her to have sex with another man while he watched, and forbade her from watching a television documentary detailing his alleged sexual abuse.
But a lawyer for Kelly tried during cross-examination to cast doubt on the woman’s claims, and instead show that Kelly treated her well, even generously, and that she welcomed his company.
The woman, who identified herself on the witness stand as Jane, is the second accuser to testify against Kelly at the 54-year-old’s sex abuse trial in federal court in Brooklyn, now in its fifth day.
Kelly, known for the Grammy-winning song I Believe I Can Fly, has pleaded not guilty to charges concerning his alleged abuse of six women and girls, including Jane and the late singer Aaliyah. If convicted, he could face life in prison.
Jane, who began testifying on Monday, said she was 17 when she met Kelly at a 2015 Florida music festival, later lived with him until the summer of 2019, and left him for good that October.
Under questioning from federal prosecutor Elizabeth Geddes, Jane, now 23, said Kelly told her to have nonconsensual sex multiple times in his presence with another man, “Nephew,” who Kelly said he had been “grooming since he was young.”
She also said that when Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly documentary detailing Kelly’s alleged sexual misconduct was coming out in January 2019, Kelly warned her that everything in it was false and she must change the channel.
Multiple witnesses have said Kelly maintained tight control at his Chicago home, with Jane saying he ordered her to write him apology letters for breaking his rules, such as referring to him as “Daddy” and needing permission to use the bathroom.
“I’m not happy. I’m not being fulfilled sexually, and on top of that I’m getting spankings nearly every day,” Jane said she wrote in one apology letter. “This isn’t what I want my life to be. I know it’s not what you want either.”
Jane also said that when she and another woman defended Kelly in an interview with CBS News’ Gayle King, prior to moving out, Kelly coached them what to say and coughed in a distinctive way so they would know he was there, listening in.
On cross-examination, Kelly’s lawyer Deveraux Cannick appeared to cast doubt on Jane’s claim that Kelly pressured her into their first alleged sexual encounter, when she was 17, as a condition of helping advance her own fledgling singing career.
“You never told the officers that Mr Kelly violated you?” Cannick asked.
Jane said no.
“Did you tell your parents?” Cannick went on.
“Did you tell anyone?”
Jane, however, resisted Cannick’s suggestion that Kelly and his girlfriends functioned like a “family,” while agreeing that the singer once rented a California home for Christmas and gave his girlfriends US$10,000 (S$13,000) each to buy presents for each other.
“I wouldn’t call it a family now,” she said.
Kelly also faces sex-related criminal charges in Illinois and Minnesota, and pleaded not guilty.