BROOKLYN, New York — A 23-year-old woman testified about the five-year relationship she had with R. Kelly on Monday, describing in emotional and graphic detail the abuse and degradation Kelly allegedly used to control her — including forcing her to have an abortion.
The woman, who identified herself in court using the pseudonym Jane, said she met Kelly in 2015 when she was a 17-year-old aspiring singer looking for mentorship. Instead, she found herself wrapped up in what federal prosecutors have described as an abusive sex cult. She spoke — at times through tears — about how Kelly would allegedly punish her for breaking the authoritarian “rules” he had for his “girlfriends” on how they were to dress and act, and even when they could use the bathroom.
Her testimony, which is set to continue Tuesday, provided disturbing insight into how Kelly allegedly managed to silence and hold sway over victims even as he abused them. Prosecutors have argued that Kelly’s alleged abuse of multiple girls and women amounted to a criminal enterprise; he has been charged with sex trafficking and racketeering.
“I would get chastised nearly every two to three days,” Jane said. “He would leave bruises and sometimes it would make my skin tear.”
The punishments were often spankings, which Kelly called “chastisements,” she said. One time, she said, he beat the 4-foot, 11-inch-tall, 98-pound teenager with his size 12 Air Force 1 sneaker. Regularly, she said she would be confined to a room for days and forced to urinate in a large gas station cup.
Another time, Jane said Kelly forced her to make a video in which she smeared her face with feces, putting some of it in her mouth. He then threatened to make her do it again because she “wasn’t into it enough,” she said. It was part of a pattern of humiliation, Jane said. Kelly allegedly also amassed collateral on the women in his life, making them write letters confessing to damaging falsehoods, including that they’d stolen money from him and that they’d been molested by family members.
Jane first met Kelly in 2015 at a concert in Orlando that she attended with her parents. Kelly showed her “a lot of attention” during the show, she said, and a member of his entourage later slipped her Kelly’s phone number on a piece of paper. She had dreams of breaking into the music industry and thought Kelly might be able to help her hone her craft. “He was a musician as well, and I thought any critique would be good critique,” she said.
Shortly after, Kelly invited Jane to audition for him at the Dolphin Hotel at Disney World, she said, and she went there after school with her parents’ knowledge. He did not initially know her true age, as she lied and said she was 18, she said. Kelly said she would audition for him — but first, he said, according to the witness, “he needed to come.” Jane said he aggressively pressured her for sex, which she resisted, but eventually gave in when he said he would “take care of [her] for life” if he could perform oral sex on her.
At one point during their encounter, police knocked on the hotel room’s door, and Kelly became “very anxious and scared.” He told her to go into the bathroom and get dressed, she said.
“He said, ‘Are you 18?’ And I said yes,” Jane said. “And he said, ‘Don’t lie to me.’”
The officers said Jane’s parents had called the police because she was not picking up her phone, she said. She told the officers she was 18, but showed them her ID card, which listed her true age as 17. The officers did not acknowledge the discrepancy, she said, and it is unclear whether they realized she was listed as underage. Instead, she said, the officers told Kelly to call if he ever wanted to hire them as security, and left.
Despite being a junior in high school, Jane spent much of that spring and summer traveling around the country to meet Kelly while he was on tour. At the end of the summer, Jane realized she would need to return home for her senior year, so she told him she was underage. Kelly was not deterred, she said, and made arrangements for Jane to move in with him full time in Chicago and complete high school online.
In the five years she spent with Kelly, Jane said he controlled nearly every aspect of her life and body, forcing her to have sex with him and many of the other women in the house any time he wanted, often filming the encounters. One time, when she was still 17, Kelly allegedly ejaculated on her face and would not allow her to wash it off, she said, instead making her “let it harden,” and then brought in one of his employees to see.
“I recall them laughing, and I felt very much humiliated,” she said.
This level of bodily control allegedly extended beyond sex. In 2017, Jane said she became pregnant, and Kelly allegedly made her get an abortion against her will. She had not wanted an abortion, but Kelly “still wanted me to keep my body tight,” she said.
This was not the first time Kelly’s lack of protection during sex had “devastating” ramifications for Jane, she said. When she was still 17, she began feeling pain in her pelvis and lower abdomen. Kelly laughed it off, suggesting it was due to the size of his penis, but then the pain became so severe Jane said she could barely walk, she said. A doctor diagnosed her with herpes — which Kelly has had since at least 2007, his physician testified on Thursday.
“He was agitated and told me I could’ve gotten that from anyone,” she recalled. But she had only had sex with him, she said. Jane had intense herpes outbreaks in the beginning of her time with Kelly, during which she could not have sex. During one such outbreak, she said, Kelly allegedly told her, “I think your pussy is broken.”