Lawyers for R&B star R. Kelly are expected to cross examine a woman Friday who testified that the singer sexually abused her as a minor and coached her to lie to protect him from multiple investigations decades ago.
Now 37, Jane —a pseudonym assigned to her for the trial — told jurors Thursday that she was 14 when the abuse began. An alleged video of the two became the centerpiece of Kelly’s 2008 child pornography trial in state court. Jane’s refusal to testify against the singer likely led to the star’s acquittal, but she so far spent four hours on the stand as Kelly faces federal charges for child pornography and obstruction of justice.
Friday, Jane will be questioned by Kelly’s fiery attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, who in her opening statement noted that Jane’s father, a guitarist, played on several of Kelly’s albums even after the singer was indicted for the first time in 2002, and that Kelly had remained close with the family until the 2019 broadcast of the “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary series.
Bonjean said that Jane and her family had, for more than two decades, denied that the singer had done anything inappropriate with her.
Jane on Thursday outlined years of sexual abuse that began when she was 13 or 14 and allegedly continued even as the singer stood trial in state court on child pornography charges. The tape at the heart of the 2008 trial had leaked to the public in 2002, and Kelly turned to the girl —whom he considered his “goddaughter” —and her parents to help contain the fallout, she said.
In a meeting at hotel in her hometown in Oak Park, allegedly arranged by Kelly’s former manager and current co-defendant, Derrel McDavid, the artist pleaded with the girl’s father, Jane said.
In court, Jane said she recalled Kelly “dropping to his knees and grabbing his head and apologizing profusely and just asking for my dad’s forgiveness.”
R. Kelly’s trial in Chicago began Aug. 15, 2022, and is expected to last for about a month. Here’s what you need to stay informed:
- Follow the latest stories from the trial.
- Read more about why this trial is happening in the wake of Kelly’s New York sentence and how it connects to his 2008 Chicago trial.
- Meet the people in the courtroom and view a timeline of Kelly’s alleged crimes.
- Read through the Sun-Times’ original reporting on Kelly, including the story that led to the singer’s first indictment in 2002.
Video of Jane and Kelly having sex in the “log cabin room” is key evidence against Kelly and co-defendants McDavid and former assistant Milton “June” Brown, who are accused of coordinating a frantic effort 20 years ago to locate copies of VHS tapes of Kelly having sex with minors.
The same tape was at the heart of Kelly’s 2008 trial in Cook County, where Kelly was acquitted in large part because the girl and her parents denied it was her in the video.
Jane testified Thursday that in 2002 she and her parents lied to investigators from the state Department of Children and Family Services, Chicago police and a grand jury when they denied Kelly was having sex with the girl.
Soon after the hotel meeting, Jane said Kelly sent her and her parents to the Bahamas and Cancun for several weeksto think and avoid the media and authorities in Chicago. Coached by Kelly, Jane said she convinced her parents to stand by the singer.
Asked by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeannice Appenteng why she chose to cooperate with investigators two decades later, Jane replied “I became exhausted with living with his lies.”
Wearing a white suit and long braids, Jane was poised under questioning, her voice only breaking when she was asked to describe the graphic sex acts depicted on videos she said showed her being abused by Kelly when she was 14.
Prosecutors have yet to play any of the videos for jurors, and conceded in opening statements “we’re not going to make [jurors] watch hours of child pornography.”
The trial is expected to last another three weeks.
Kelly was found guilty on racketeering and pornography charges in federal court in New York and in June was sentenced to 30 years in prison.