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More victims recall being sexually abused by R Kelly as teenagers

By | Published on Tuesday 30 August 2022

R Kelly

Two more women took to the witness stand yesterday to talk about their relationships with R Kelly as teenagers, including sexual encounters that involved Jane, the star witness in the latest criminal proceedings against the one time musician.

This is the second trial in a year putting the spotlight on the allegations of abuse that previously followed Kelly around for decades. In last year’s court case in New York we heard from a long line of Kelly’s victims, who each described how he had groomed and then abused them.

However, the current trial in Chicago has focused much more on the specific abuse of Jane – which began when she was about fourteen – and efforts by Kelly and his team to cover up that abuse after the leaking of a video tape in the early 2000s.

The leaking of the tape that seemed to show Kelly sexually abusing Jane led to the earlier criminal proceedings against the star in the mid-2000s. However, on that occasion, unlike this time, Jane denied it was her seen in the video and declined to cooperate with the prosecution.

As a result, in 2008 Kelly’s defence successfully threw doubt in court on whether it was in fact Kelly and Jane seen having sex on the tape and he was acquitted. Part of this latest trial is considering how Kelly, and co-defendants Derrel McDavid and Milton ‘June’ Brown, allegedly sought to subvert that earlier prosecution.

That said, yesterday the Chicago court heard from two women who met Kelly as teenagers and who – similar to those who testified in New York a year ago – described how they came to be abused by the musician. Although both of yesterday’s witnesses – referred to as Pauline and Tracy – were also able to testify about Kelly’s relationship with Jane.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Pauline gave a pretty forthright testimony. She told the court that she had been best friends with Jane when they were both teenagers and that they had regularly hung out together at Kelly’s Chicago mansion. On one occasion while at Kelly’s home, when she and Jane were about fourteen, she discovered Jane naked and kneeling in front of the musician.

“He told me he was just looking for bruises on her, because she hurt herself”, she said. “I told him that ‘that’s not how you look for bruises’ and he said that’s how he looked for bruises … then he stated that ‘we all have secrets’”.

Kelly then directed Pauline to have sexual interactions with him and Jane, she claimed, and dozens, maybe hundreds, such interactions subsequently occurred when the two girls were aged between fourteen and sixteen. The age of consent in Illinois, where Kelly lives, is seventeen.

Pauline also recalled how Kelly routinely gave her alcohol as a young teen – specifically the liqueur Hpnotiq – and also how he would regularly film their sexual encounters, including the threesomes with both Jane and another girl referred to as Brittany.

Tracy said that she met Kelly in 1999 aged sixteen when she was working as an intern at a record label. She recalled how he had invited her to his studio and then began trying to pressure her into sex. She initially resisted, though he still masturbated and ejaculated on her during that first visit to his studio. He later tried to force himself on Tracy in a hotel room, though “when I asked him [to stop] he did stop”.

However, she went on, in summer 1999 when she again visited Kelly at the studio, “he told me this time we were going to have sex and it would probably hurt, but I would have to let him finish”. That time Kelly did indeed have sex with Tracy, the first of many sexual encounters that followed, some involving other girls, including Jane.

Recalling the first time Kelly involved another girl – that being Jane – she told the court: “I was really confused and, just really angry, because I didn’t really think there was anybody else but me and Rob. They just seemed to be really familiar with each other and they knew what was about to happen and I was the only one who didn’t”.

Kelly’s lawyer Jennifer Bonjean sought to pick holes in both women’s testimonies, in particular citing inconsistencies between what they are saying now versus what they have said about their respective relationships with Kelly previously. As well as trying to damage the credibility of both Pauline and Tracy as witnesses in general, Bonjean was also seeking to create doubt regarding the timelines of the witnesses’ encounters with her client.

The aim was to suggest that the sexual encounters possibly happened later than the two women claimed, maybe when they were old enough to consent to sex under the relevant state laws. Tracy had previously said she met Kelly in 2000 not 1999, Bonjean said. And the specific liqueur Pauline claims Kelly gave her, Hpnotiq, wasn’t released until 2002, when she would have been seventeen or eighteen, the lawyer added.

Pauline had also been inconsistent regarding how many sexual encounters she had with Kelly and Jane, Bonjean told the court, variously suggesting dozens of such encounters, or maybe more than a hundred. But, Pauline countered, they regularly had sex over a pretty long period of time, and it’s hard to remember the precise number of encounters. She told Bonjean: “You could say 100, you could say 200, we fucked a lot”.

Bonjean also said that Pauline had tried to get some money out of Kelly when she was 20, and at that time she’d made reference to “something inappropriate that happened on a tour bus”, leading the musician to assume she was trying to extort him.

And yet, Bonjean said, if she and Kelly had routinely been having sex when she was a minor, why not hone in on that when trying to extort the musician for money? “It seems if you really want to get someone’s attention you might mention ‘oh, we had an illicit relationship as a minor'”, the lawyer mused.

But Pauline sought to play down that exchange and her intent at the time. “[Kelly] called it extortion, I called it ‘don’t play with me’. Girls get mad and say stupid stuff and want to slap you or bust your car windows out. It was just a threat. He knew that. If he didn’t know that he wouldn’t have had me around all these years”.

The case continues.