One of R. Kelly’s accusers broke down on the stand Monday as she gave harrowing testimony about the abuse she endured from the disgraced singer during their five-year relationship, describing how he gave her bruises during frequent spankings and even forced her to get an abortion in 2017.
“He had expressed that he had still wanted me to keep my body tight and he wanted to have a family after he got rid of the rest of the girls,” the accuser, who is identified in court documents as Jane Doe 5, told jurors in Brooklyn federal court at Kelly’s racketeering and sex crimes trial.
The woman, who identified herself to the jury as “Jane,” recounted that she met Kelly at a hotel when she was a 17-year-old high school student, after one of his concerts in Orlando, Florida. During their five-year relationship, she lived with Kelly and his girlfriends in Atlanta and Chicago, and was routinely punished whenever she deviated from his “rules.”
During their first meeting, she said Kelly “peer-pressured” her into letting him perform oral sex on her, she testified. After that, Jane Doe 5, who had told Kelly she was 18, met up with the singer at several of his concerts across the country. Months later, she said she started to experience severe pain whenever they had sex.
“I would have discomfort in my pelvis and lower abdomen,” the woman, now 23, said. “It got to the point where I couldn’t even physically walk.”
The pain became so bad that Kelly eventually scheduled a doctor’s appointment for Jane Doe 5, at which point she learned that she had contracted vaginal herpes. When she told Kelly, the Grammy-award-winning singer was “agitated” and insisted that she could have gotten the disease months before they met—but she told him she had only ever been intimate with him, the woman testified.
“This man purposely gave me something he knew he had had. That he could have controlled,” Jane said angrily on the stand, as Kelly sat emotionless.
Breaking down on the stand, Jane explained that she and the other live-in girlfriends were forced to adhere to Kelly’s strict rules, including wearing baggy clothing and turning away from men who entered elevators. To ensure their silence and loyalty to Kelly, she said they were forced to write at least four fake letters every year that claimed they’d stolen money or had been molested by family members.
“They were to basically exploit us to protect him,” she explained.
Jane said she was also forced to record demeaning videos of herself as punishment—including one where she had to smear feces on her face and put it in her mouth.
Afterward filming the degrading video, Kelly allegedly told her she “wasn’t into it enough” and that she “would have to redo it.” Jane said she refused.
The accuser said Kelly physically abused her on a regular basis, once beating her with a size 12 Air Force 1 shoe after she lied about texting her high-school friend.
“He hit me all over. My arms, my face, my butt,” she said. At the time, she weighed less than 100 pounds and was under five feet.
Another time, Kelly kept her inside a room in his Chicago studio for over three days after she bought the wrong sized pair of Hollister sweat pants. The most common punishment, Jane Doe 5 explained to jurors, came in the form of spanking—or as Kelly would call it, “chastising.”
“He would leave bruises and it would sometimes make my skin tear,” Jane Doe 5 said, adding that Kelly would dole out the vile punishment every two to three days. “[Kelly] said that it was just a spanking to help me remember” his rules.
Jane is the second accuser to take the stand against the once-revered R&B singer. Prosecutors have alleged that Kelly abused at least six women and girls, four of whom were minors when he first had sexual contact with them. At least two say they contracted herpes after Kelly knowingly exposed them to the disease.
Kelly, 54, faces a slew of charges, including racketeering based on kidnapping, sexual exploitation of children, and forced labor. He is also charged with violations of the Mann Act, which prohibits the transport of people across state lines for sex.
“He had mentioned rules...protocols that I would have to abide by in his presence,” Jane said Monday, adding that the rules began to appear when she traveled with Kelly for his shows. “He wanted me to call him daddy.”
“He would control every single time we were intimate,” she later added. “He told me to walk back and forth and that’s what I would have to do until he gave me another direction.”
Jerhonda Pace, a mother of four who alleged she was sexually and physically abused by Kelly when she was 16 years old, also testified last week that the singer gave her herpes. She said that throughout their relationship, Kelly never wore a condom or told her he had a sexually transmitted disease.
Dr. Kris G. McGrath, a professor at Northwestern University and Kelly’s former primary care doctor, testified under subpoena on Thursday that he began prescribing the singer medication to treat herpes symptoms at least as far back as 2007 but that he first became aware of the possibility Kelly might have herpes in 2000. After the visit, McGrath said, he told Kelly to inform his sexual partners about the possible diagnosis.
But Jane Doe 5 said that in 2015 she had unprotected sex with Kelly for months before she learned that he had herpes.
Initially claiming she was 18 years old, Jane Doe 5 said she began to travel with Kelly soon after meeting him in 2015. During these trips, she was forced to stay inside her hotel room, wear baggy clothing, and ask Kelly for permission whenever she made a move, she told jurors.
“Every time we would have sex, he would record it,” she said.
Jane Doe 5 said she ended up spending the rest of the summer before her senior year of high school in Chicago—where she was confined to hotel rooms and Kelly’s studio. She said that since the studio did not have any bathrooms and she “could not leave without calling him,” she would often be forced to urinate in extra-large cups from a nearby gas station.
There was also “tissue paper and baby wipes” in the room, Jane Doe 5 told jurors on Monday.
At the end of the summer, Jane recounted how she was “scared” to finally admit to Kelly that she was in fact underage. When she spilled the secret over hot dogs in Lincoln Park, she said Kelly laughed at her before slapping her with an open palm and walking away.
Hours later, he found her in the park and persuaded her to come back with him. “He gave me a kiss and he said we would figure it out,” she said.
After consulting with his attorneys, Jane Doe 5 said that ultimately she moved to Chicago to live with him and was homeschooled—with her parents’ permission. She ended up living with Kelly for five years.
The disgraced singer has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him and repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Throughout the trial, Kelly’s defense team has argued that his accusers all had consensual relationships with the singer, calling liars who “have an agenda.”
Prosecutors also allege that Kelly bribed an Illinois government employee with $500 to obtain a fake welfare ID to marry “Princess of R&B” Aaliyah in 1994.
“It shouldn’t have happened. It was wrong,” Demetrius Smith, Kelly’s former tour manager, testified on Monday about the marriage. “I shouldn’t be talking about Aaliyah, she’s not here.”
Smith, who was forced to testify and granted immunity, told jurors on Friday that he helped Kelly obtain a fake welfare card for the teenage singer so she could marry him in 1994. The fake identification, which did not have a birth date on it, was one of two cards Smith helped the singers illegally obtain so they could get married. At the time, Aaliyah, then 15, had said she thought she was pregnant, he said.
“They were more than friends from the very beginning,” Smith said of the relationship, which began when Aaliyah was in her early teens. “I just thought they were too playful.”
Smith was at times combative with Judge Ann Donnelly and prosecutors on Friday as he reluctantly described how he flew with Kelly from an Orlando show to Chicago in August 1994, after the singer revealed that Aaliyah is in “trouble, man.” On the plane ride, Smith said Kelly was “concerned” because he was worried about going to jail if the teenage singer was indeed pregnant. Smith insisted he never believed that Aaliyah was actually pregnant.
The marriage certificate, which was shown to jurors Friday, stated that she was three years older—and thus of legal age to marry the then-27-year-old “I Believe I Can Fly” artist.
The pair were married inside a suite at a Sheraton hotel near the airport—and both were wearing “casual clothing.” About an hour later, Smith said he and Kelly went back to the airport to catch a flight to continue the singer’s tour.
The Cook County Clerk marriage application, certification, and license stated that the pair got married on Aug. 31, 1994, in Rosemont, Illinois. In February 1996, Aaliyah’s underage marriage to Kelly was annulled by her parents.