After R.Kelly’s girlfriends displeased him at an all-female birthday party at his studio, the singer made the women fight each other, a former assistant testified on Tuesday.
“He didn’t like that they were twerking for cake,” Suzette Mayweather, who worked as one of Kelly’s assistants for 16 months, told jurors during the singer’s sex-crimes trial in Brooklyn federal court.
As punishment for how they were acting at the Jan. 4, 2016 party, Mayweather said that Kelly “had them get on each other”—or fight. Kelly later told Mayweather that while the party only included females, he was angry that one of his girlfriend’s cousins “learned more on the masculine side,” she said.
Maywather testified that during the party she could hear the girlfriends “laughing or screaming” and “thumping” upstairs, which she believed was them fighting.
She is the fourth employee of the Grammy-winning singer to take the stand against him. So far, all the employees have detailed strict rules to which they—and Kelly’s girlfriends—had to adhere while in the singer’s orbit. If they did not follow the rules, as at least three employees testified, they would have their pay docked as punishment.
Prosecutors have argued the 54-year-old abused at least six women and girls, four of whom were minors when he first had sexual contact with them. Kelly has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which include racketeering based on kidnapping and sexual exploitation of children and violations of the Mann Act, which prohibits the transport of people across state lines for sex.
To prove his pattern of behavior, several witnesses have described the bizarre rules they had to follow—ranging from asking permission to use the bathroom, to wearing baggy clothing, to standing facing the elevator walls if a man entered the room.
“They did not move unless they had his permission,” Mayweather, who worked for Kelly from Oct. 2015 to Feb. 2017, told jurors on Tuesday. “If there was a male present... I interacted with the male.”
“When [Kelly’s girlfriends] walked in the elevator, when the door closed, they faced the wall,” she added.
While Mayweather described Kelly as a “brother” who she had known for decades, she did admit on the stand that she got in several arguments with him during her employment. In one jarring incident, Mayweather said Kelly made her go to the studio in the middle of the night because he wanted sweet potato pie.
When she arrived at the studio—with several frozen pies she bought from Walmart in hand—she said that Kelly told her: “I thought you were going to fail your test.”
The pair then got into an argument at the studio because Mayweather spoke to one of Kelly’s girlfriends about their relationship. Breaking down on the stand as she described the argument, Mayweather said the incident got so heated that she lied to Kelly about who initiated the conversation between her and one of his girlfriends because she “feared for her in terms of what the repercussions would be.”
One of Kelly’s rules, she noted, was that nobody could speak with the singer’s girlfriends about their relationship.
“This particular incident was the first time... that I had ever seen Rob really that upset,” she said, noting that she received a fine for breaking the rule. “It was not the tone, it was the look in his eyes.”
Tom Arnold, who said he worked for Kelly for over eight years as a studio manager, testified last week that he ultimately left his job after being docked a week’s pay for booking a male Disney World tour guide for the singer and his girlfriends.
“Nobody was available,” Arnold said about his decision to book a male guide even though one of Kelly’s rules insisted it “always had to be a female.”
He testified that the week’s “fine”—which was about $1,500—came after he was forced to book a male guide for a “very last minute” trip for the singer and some “female guests.” The booking also went against Kelly’s alleged rule that girlfriends could not be around other males, or look them in the eye if they were in the same vicinity.
Mayweather likewise testified on Tuesday that Kelly’s girlfriends could not be around other males. And Anthony Navarro, who was a low-level assistant in 2007, also testified last week about Kelly’s intense regime.
“We were all fined because someone ate his donuts,” Arnold said about another incident.