The 37-year-old, who testified under the alias Jane, only looked at Kelly once during her testimony when she was asked to identify him. Kelly kept his eyes on the defense table throughout her time on the witness stand. Prosecutors showed multiple footage of Jane testifying that Kelly had sex with her. At times, during her time on the witness stand, Jane would cry.
“How old were you when the sexual acts depicted in these recordings took place?” asked Assistant US Attorney Jeannice Appenteng.
“14,” Jane said.
Jane testified that Kelly had sex with her when she was 14 and had sex with her “hundreds” of times when she was 15 before she turned 18.
Jane is one of five minors whom prosecutors say Kelly sexually abused in the late 1990s and made explicit videos with four of them. Kelly is charged with, among other things, making and receiving child pornography, enticement of minors into criminal sexual activity and obstruction. He has pleaded not guilty.
His co-defendants include Derrel McDavid, a former business manager and accountant for the singer, who faces child pornography and disability charges. Milton “June” Brown, Kelly’s former assistant, faces charges of conspiracy to obtain child pornography. McDavid and Brown each pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Jennifer Bonjean, an attorney for Kelly, asked the jury during Wednesday’s opening statement to ask why Jane is now coming forward and changing her testimony from two decades ago.
“For the past 22 years, she has adamantly denied that it was her in that video. Before it came to criminal investigations, she denied it. She’s repeatedly denied it to prosecutors, she’s denied it to social workers and police officers. She denied it under oath before a grand jury,” Bonjean said on Wednesday.
On Thursday, Jane said on the witness stand that she was testifying under immunity for lying under oath to a grand jury in 2002 about her sexual relationship with Kelly and whether she appeared in the explicit video footage with him.
“If I correct my mistakes by telling the truth, I will not be prosecuted,” Jane testified.
A family connection
As a young teenager, Jane traveled the world with a Christian hip hop group whose members were cousins of hers. Prosecutors asked her not to identify the group to protect her identity.
“I lived my dream,” testified Jane.
Her aunt, known professionally as Sparkle, worked with and was romantically involved with R. Kelly. It was Sparkle who introduced Jane Kelly when Jane was 12 or 13 at a gospel concert her church was giving, she testified. Weeks later, Kelly came to a concert by her group.
“He told me what a great job I did,” 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 see Kelly and Sparkle record music and talk to Kelly about basketball and music. Jane testified that she was 13 when Sparkle suggested to Jane that she 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 “giggled” and agreed to be her godfather, and within weeks their relationship turned sexual. Kelly spoke to her on the phone and asked “what color panties are you wearing” and “about my boobs growing” and that “I have to wear bras,” Jane testified.
When Kelly became her godfather, Jane testified that her parents were comfortable letting her spend the night or even the weekend at his home without her parents or aunt being present.
“They’d pretty much drop me off and then leave,” Jane testified.
Records of sexual acts
Jane testified that she was 14 when Kelly’s sexualized comments became acts. She said Kelly started touching her breasts and vaginal area while he was touching himself one night when they were in his recording studio. The touch, she testified, quickly morphed into oral sex and other sexual acts, and she lost her virginity to him when she was 15.
Jane spoke softly when Appenteng asked her to describe a plot being shown in a video.
“What part of your body did he urinate on?” Appenteng asked.
“My vagina,” Jane said softly.
Bonjean and an attorney for McDavid have repeatedly objected to the prosecutors’ acceptance of the footage as evidence. They disputed the authenticity of the videos and the chain of custody through which the videos have been transmitted in the 20 years since their emergence. Retired Chicago police detective Daniel Everett, who examined one of the tapes in 2002, testified Thursday that he did not know the whereabouts of the original multi-shot VHS tape.
“I don’t know where it is today,” Everett testified.
Jane testified that after recordings were made, they were sometimes stored in a gym bag or a wood-paneled room in Kelly’s former home, which she called the “log cabin” area. She testified that she sometimes saw Brown carrying the bag filled with recordings.
Prosecutors did not play the footage in court Thursday, but warned jurors during opening statements that they would play portions of the videos during the trial and that they were “difficult to watch.”
lying to authorities
When the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services began investigating a claim that Kelly had 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 Department investigators that she and Kelly had a sexual relationship.
Jane testified Thursday that she had denied to her parents that she had had a sexual relationship with Kelly, but after reports emerged in 2002 of the existence of a tape showing the couple engaging in sexual activity, she said that Kelly, Jane and her parents had a meeting where Kelly admitted to them that he was having a sexual relationship with their daughter.
Jane and her father received subpoenas to testify before a grand jury in 2002. Jane testified that prior to her grand jury appearance, she had a conversation with Kelly about “loyalty” and “the denial of our relationship and the sex tape.”
Jane testified that she lied to a grand jury in 2002 when she denied having a sexual relationship with the singer and appearing in sex tapes.
“And why were you insincere?” Appenteng asked.
“Because I was afraid of exposing Robert. Because I was afraid of what might happen to my parents. I didn’t want that person to be me either,” Jane testified.
Jane is expected to take the stand again on Friday.