Prosecutors rest case as fourth woman testifies

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Nia was just 15 when she left her Atlanta home in 1996 to fly to Minneapolis at the request of R. Kelly, the R&B superstar who was twice her age.

She had no identification and did not tell her mother where she was going, Nia, now 42, told a federal jury on Tuesday. After a white limousine picked her up to take her to the airport, she asked the driver to stop at a gas station and bought a single rose to give to Kelly.

“I wanted him to know how I felt about him,” she said. “And I felt it would be a gesture that would be sweet.”

Instead, Kelly sexually assaulted her in a hotel room and hurriedly left before she could even give him the rose, she testified. After another inappropriate meeting at Kelly’s recording studio in Chicago, he stopped answering her calls. When she saw him again on a video shoot in California a few years later, he didn’t even acknowledge he knew her, she said.

Nia’s harrowing story was one of the last things jurors heard before prosecutors dropped their case on Tuesday, after calling some 25 witnesses over 10 days to testify against the disgraced singer and his two co-defendants.

Judge Harry Leinenweber adjourned the trial until Thursday morning, when defense attorneys can begin calling their witnesses.

In a surprise move, the prosecutors closed after calling just four of the five Kelly prosecutors that they said the jurors would hear during the trial.

It was unclear why prosecutors did not take the fifth alleged victim, “Brittany,” to trial as they had promised. US Assistant Attorney Jason Julien told jurors in opening statements that Brittany was 16 when Kelly first had sexual contact with her.

It doesn’t appear that prosecutors intend to drop any of the charges related to Brittany, so jurors will have to rely on sworn testimony about her from other witnesses to make their verdict on those charges .

Kelly’s goddaughter, “Jane,” testified early in the trial that Kelly had engaged her in threesomes to Brittany between five and ten times. The first time, Jane was about 15 years old and Brittany a little older, Jane testified. The two girls fell out of friendship when Jane learned that Brittany was also seeing Kelly separately, she testified.

“Pauline” testified this week that Kelly also had threesomes with her and Brittany when Pauline was 15 or 16, saying Brittany is about a year older than her. Pauline said that when she was 20, she called Kelly’s company pretending to be Brittany and threatening to go public about some misconduct if he didn’t give her money.

“Well, he called it extortion,” she memorably testified. “I called it ‘don’t play with me’.”

Meanwhile, Nia softly testified on Tuesday that she had met Kelly at an Atlanta mall in the spring of 1996. She approached the singer for an autograph and when Kelly gave her his autograph, he also wrote his phone number on the paper.

They started making phone calls and during one of them she told him she was 15, she said. He said he wanted her to come to one of his shows and arranged for her to travel to Minnesota for a concert, she testified.

A limousine picked her up from her mother’s apartment in Atlanta—and on the way to the airport, they stopped at a gas station so she could pick up the rose. She went to the Minnesota concert and Kelly came to her hotel room the next day, she said.

Kelly hugged her and kissed her on the lips in greeting, she said. She asked if they could have their picture taken together, but Kelly refused.

Kelly told Nia to take off her clothes, walk around and then sit next to him on the bed, she testified.

She obeyed, and Kelly kissed her, asked her if she was still a virgin, and began performing sexual acts on herself, she testified.

When he was done, he hastily left the room, she testified.

“He cleaned himself and left,” she said. “I never got a chance to give him a rose.”

Kelly had said she wanted to see her in Chicago, and Nia made arrangements to stay there with family after school closed in the summer of 1996, she testified. One night she went with three cousins ​​to visit him at his studio, she said.

Kelly greeted them but expressed surprise that she didn’t come alone, she testified. He called her away twice during the night so they could kiss alone in the hallway. During one of those cases, he groped her under her pants, she testified.

Nia didn’t tell her cousins ​​about it, she testified, “Their reason for coming was to prevent something from happening, and I didn’t want them to know.”

Later that summer, she tried to contact him several times and he never came back to her, she testified.

They ran into each other again some time later in California, during a video recording for Kelly’s “If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time,” Nia testified. She was an aspiring actor and model at the time, she said. Kelly didn’t seem to know who she was.

“He never recognized me and never spoke to me, but sometimes I felt like he was looking in my direction and maybe recognizing me,” she said.

In 2002, Nia filed a lawsuit against Kelly with the allegations of sexual contact with minors, and Kelly agreed to pay $500,000 to settle the claim, she testified.

At cross-examination, Bonjean was skeptical that Nia could have boarded a flight without identification, as she testified, and insisted that she really told Kelly her age. Nia remained adamant that she did.

“If you told him you were 15, you must also have discussed that your mother wouldn’t approve or agree that you would leave the state of Georgia, get on a plane alone and see a grown man, right?”

Prosecutors objected and Leinenweber supported the objection.

Nia’s mother was a nurse and had already left for work when the limousine picked up Nia for her trip to Minnesota, she said.

Bonjean claimed Nia filed her lawsuit “not long” after Kelly snubbed her during the recording of the music video and after learning that Kelly was in trouble for child porn.

Nia testified that she contacted the attorney to see if she could be helpful as a witness against Kelly — a claim Bonjean was audibly skeptical about.

“You contacted a private attorney… because you might be able to assist with the criminal prosecution?” she asked. “You didn’t contact the Cook County Attorney to let them know?”

Prosecutors briefly called to the booth Sheryl Ware, who identified herself as Nia’s cousin’s ex-wife. She was one of a group of cousins ​​who went to Kelly’s studio, she said.

Ware noted that she recognized Kelly because he wore the same shirt he wore in the music video for “Gotham City,” she said, and they were in the studio until dawn that night.

As they left, Kelly said, “Let me talk to (Nia) for a minute,” Ware testified.

“I was like, ‘You get five minutes.’ So they went down the hall,” she said. “They were there exactly five minutes, because I came out in five minutes.”

Jurors heard Monday from two other women who testified about their sexual contact with Kelly while they were minors. Pauline said she had sexual contact with the disgraced singer dozens, if not hundreds, of times when she was a minor, and Tracy — who testified using only her first name — told jurors at length about Kelly’s sexual abuse and assault of her when she was 16. .

Both women were questioned extensively by Bonjean, who claimed that both women had reached the age of 17 – Illinois’s age of majority – when they began their sexual relations with Kelly.

Afternoon briefing

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Kelly, 55, is charged with 13 productions of child pornography, conspiracy to produce child pornography and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Also on trial are former Kelly employees Derrel McDavid and Milton “June” Brown, who, according to the indictment, had plans to buy back incriminating sex tapes taken from Kelly’s collection and hide years of alleged sexual abuse of underage girls.

The first week of the trial focused on “Jane,” who identified herself as the girl who was sexually assaulted by the then-superstar in three separate videos from the 1990s.

One of those videos became the subject of Kelly’s 2008 Cook County trial, in which he was acquitted of child pornography because, as prosecutors now claim, Kelly and his associates went to great lengths to keep “Jane” quiet and other to recover incriminating images.

Witnesses last week were largely focused on those efforts. Three people testified that Kelly’s team paid them to bring him videos of his homemade child pornography while he waited for his trial in Cook County. Defense attorneys have challenged their stories as inconsistent during lengthy cross-examinations, trying to portray them as untrustworthy blackmailers.

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The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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