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R Kelly trial resumes with testimonies of two more accusers

By | Published on Friday 10 September 2021

R Kelly

The R Kelly trial resumed in New York yesterday with the jury hearing testimonies from two more of the musician’s accusers.

Kelly, of course, faces multiple charges relating to allegations of sexual abuse and other related crimes. The prosecution’s case is built on the testimonies of numerous women who claim that they were abused by Kelly while in relationships with him. The aim is to show that the star – supported by some allies and associates – ran a long-term and well organised enterprise designed to allow him to meet and subsequently abuse teenage girls and young women.

The second alleged victim to testify yesterday, referred to as Anna, told what is now a familiar story about her interactions and relationship with Kelly. She met the musician at one of his concerts, exchanged phone numbers, met up with him a few times, and was soon living in Kelly’s home.

Things were pretty good at the start, Anna said, adding that the early part of the relationship was “fun” and “cool”. But Kelly became more controlling as the relationship progressed, with Anna learning the set of rules she had to follow, and that breaking the rules would result in sometimes violent punishment.

She quickly became cut off from the outside world, she added, with loss of access to her mobile phone one of the punishments Kelly sometimes enforced. When travelling with the star she needed permission to leave his van, even to use the toilet. If Kelly couldn’t be reached to grant such permission, she explained, she had to urinate into a cup in the van.

Kelly often recorded the more violent punishments, she then claimed. She was also forced to send him messages insisting that she enjoyed the spankings and that they “turned her on”. But, she said, that wasn’t true.

The other witness testifying yesterday, referred to as Sonja, recalled a particularly harrowing incident that occurred after she tried to get an interview with Kelly in a bid to help boost her radio career.

She met the musician at a mall in Utah in 2003, she said, and asked him for an interview. He invited her to do said interview at his studio complex just outside Chicago. However, she added, things seemed unusual as soon as she arrived at Kelly’s base.

Kelly’s associates photocopied her ID, demanded contact information for certain friends and family members, and asked if she needed “protection”. She thought the latter query related to security, but the associate meant condoms. She quickly explained to the associates that sex wasn’t the reason for her visit.

She was then taken to a locked room, she claimed, where she was left for three to four days waiting for Kelly. Having not been given any food or drink for at least two days, she was eventually offered some Chinese food and a cup of Sprite. However, despite being very hungry, after eating just a little of that food she became very full and very tired, and quickly fell asleep.

When she woke, she said, she became aware that she had been sexually assaulted. Her underwear had been removed and there was a wet, white fluid on her thighs and vaginal area. Kelly, meanwhile, was in the room “doing up his pants”.

The star then left Sonja and never returned. An associate subsequently told her to leave the studio, but first had her sign a non-disclosure agreement, stressing that she must not tell anyone about the events that had just occurred, and reminding her that they had contact information for her friends and family. The associate then added: “Don’t fuck with Mr Kelly”.

With most of the accusers who have testified during the trial, Kelly’s defence team have used a similar line of questioning. They are trying to portray the accusers as groupies who knew what they were getting into, and who took advantage of Kelly’s fame and wealth. They also argue that all of his accusers could have left Kelly’s homes at anytime but chose not to. That latter point was raised again during the cross-examination of Anna yesterday.

Meanwhile, the defence accused Sonja of fabricating her story after watching the ‘Surviving R Kelly’ documentary that led to the criminal investigation against the star. They also sought to pick holes in her version of events, and questioned why – given that she still had her phone while in Kelly’s studio – she didn’t call the police for help.

Sonja explained that she didn’t think the police would believe her if she did call them, and that she worried what Kelly and his associates might do with the contact information of her friends and family if she took such action.

The trial continues.