The 37-year-old testified under the pseudonym Jane and only looked at Kelly once during her testimony when asked to identify him. Kelly kept his eyes on the defense table the entire time in the stands. Prosecutors showed multiple recordings of Jane testifying that Kelly had sexual acts with her. Sometimes Jane would start to cry during her time in the stands.
“How old were you when the sexual acts depicted in those recordings took place?” asked assistant US attorney Jeannice Appeng.
“14,” Jane testified.
Jane testified that Kelly started engaging in sexual acts with her when she was 14, and had sexual intercourse with her from when she was 15 “hundreds” of times before turning 18.
Jane is one of five minors accused of sexually assaulting Kelly in the late 1990s and making explicit videos with four of them. Kelly is charged with producing and receiving child pornography, enticing minors into criminal sexual activity, and obstruction of justice charges. He has pleaded not guilty.
His co-defendants include Derrel McDavid, a former business manager and accountant for the singer, who is accused of child pornography and obstruction. Milton “June” Brown, Kelly’s former assistant, is suspected of conspiracy to receive child pornography. McDavid and Brown each pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Jennifer Bonjean, an attorney for Kelly, asked jurors during opening statements on Wednesday to wonder why Jane is coming forward now and changing her testimony from two decades earlier.
“For the past 22 years, she has adamantly denied that it was her in that video. Before there was any criminal investigation, she denied it. She repeatedly denied it to prosecutors, she denied it to social workers and police officers. She denied it under oath to a grand jury,” Bonjean said Wednesday.
On the witness stand Thursday, Jane said she is testifying under immunity for lying under oath to a 2002 grand jury about her sexual relationship with Kelly and whether she appears in the explicit videotaped footage with him.
“If I correct my mistakes by telling the truth, I will not be prosecuted,” Jane testified.
A family bond
As a young teenager, Jane traveled the world with a Christian hip-hop group whose members were cousins to her. Prosecutors asked her not to name the group to protect her identity.
“I was living my dream,” Jane testified.
Her aunt, known professionally as Sparkle, worked with R. Kelly and had a romantic relationship with him. It was Sparkle who introduced Jane to Kelly when Jane was 12 or 13 years old at a gospel concert at her church, she testified. Weeks later, Kelly came to one of her group’s concerts.
“He told me how great I did it,” Jane testified. “I felt successful. I felt happy.”
Shortly after they met, Jane said she started spending more time with Kelly and Sparkle. She would watch Kelly and Sparkle record music and talk to Kelly about basketball and music. Jane testified that she was 13 when Sparkle suggested that Jane should ask Kelly to play a bigger role in her life.
“She told me to ask him to be my godfather.” Sparkle is expected to testify later in the trial.
Jane said Kelly “grinned” and agreed to become her godfather, and within weeks their relationship turned sexual. Kelly would talk to her on the phone and ask “what color panties are you wearing” and “about my growing breasts” and that “I should wear bras,” Jane testified.
When Kelly became her godfather, Jane testified that her parents were comfortable letting her stay at his home for the night or even the weekend, without her parents or aunt around.
“They would just about drop me off and then leave,” Jane testified.
Sexual acts recordings
Jane testified that she was 14 years old when Kelly’s sexualized comments turned into actions. She said Kelly started touching her breasts and vagina while touching himself one night while they were in his recording studio. The touching, she testified, quickly turned into oral sex and other sexual acts, and she lost her virginity to him when she was 15.
Jane spoke softly when Appeneng asked her to describe an act shown in a video.
“What part of your body did he pee on?” asked Appeneng.
“My vagina,” Jane said softly.
Bonjean, and a lawyer for McDavid, have repeatedly objected to prosecutors allowing the recordings as evidence. They disputed the authenticity of the videos and the chain of custody that the videos have been transferring in the 20 years since they surfaced. Retired Chicago Police Department detective Daniel Everett, who investigated one of the tapes in 2002, testified on Thursday that he did not know where the original multi-record VHS tape is.
“I don’t know where it is today,” Everett testified.
Jane testified that after the shots were taken, they were sometimes kept in a gym bag, or in a wood-panelled room in Kelly’s former home, which she called the “log cabin” space. She testified that she sometimes saw Brown carrying the bag full of recordings.
Prosecutors did not play the footage in court on Thursday, but warned jurors during opening statements that they will play parts of the videos during the trial and that they are “difficult to watch.”
Lying to authorities
When the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services began investigating an allegation that Kelly was having a sexual relationship with Jane in April 2000, when she was 15, Jane testified that she denied the relationship. She also testified that she later denied to Chicago police that she and Kelly had a sexual relationship.
Jane testified on Thursday that she denied having a sexual relationship with her parents, but after reports surfaced in 2002 of the existence of a tape showing the couple having sex acts, she said Kelly, Jane and her parents had a met where Kelly admitted to having a sexual relationship with their daughter.
Jane and her father were subpoenaed in 2002 to testify before a grand jury. Jane testified that before appearing before the grand jury, she had a conversation with Kelly about “loyalty” and “denying our relationship and the sex tape.”
Jane testified that she lied to a grand jury in 2002 when she denied having a sexual relationship and appeared in sex videos with the singer.
“And why were you false?” asked Appeneng.
“Because I was afraid to expose Robert. Because I was afraid of what might happen to my parents. I didn’t want that person to be me,” Jane testified.
Jane is expected to take the stands again on Friday.