Almost two decades later, prosecutors are making a similar case to a Chicago jury—but this time with the help of the woman in the video.
A woman described in court as “Jane” took the stand in Kelly’s sex-crimes trial in Chicago federal court on Thursday, alleging for the first time that the disgraced singer sexually abused her on “hundreds” of occasions while she was a teenager.
“He would tell me what to do,” she said about their sexual interactions, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune.
The woman later said that Kelly “was an authoritative figure.”
“I didn’t know how to respond. I didn’t know how to say no. I just went along with things and it somewhat became normal,” she said.
The now 37-year-old described to jurors how she first met Kelly when she was 13 years old in the late 1990s—and eventually asked him to become her godfather because she saw him as an inspiration. Within a few weeks, she said, their relationship turned sexual, noting that several of those instances were recorded. One of those taped incidents, she said, is the now-infamous one that was at the center of Kelly’s 2008 child pornography trial.
On the day in question, Jane told jurors Thursday, Kelly “urinated on my vagina.”
When asked why she had sex with Kelly, Jane responded: “It was out of intimidation.” She added that Kelly told her to keep their relationship “a secret and not to share it with anyone.”
Jane’s testimony is at the crux of the Chicago federal case against Kelly. The 55-year-old has pleaded not guilty to charges including child pornography and obstruction of justice, after allegedly luring underaged girls into sex acts. Prosecutors also allege that he conspired to obstruct justice during the original prosecution back in 2008. According to prosecutors, Kelly threatened and paid off Jane at the time so as to ensure she didn’t testify in that trial.
Kelly was ultimately acquitted of all charges in that 2008 case just hours after the jury was asked to decide his guilt.
Defense attorneys for Kelly insist that the singer, who has since been convicted of sex crimes in New York, is not a “monster,” but relied on the help of an entourage that misled him.
The Chicago trial comes just weeks after Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison for leading a criminal enterprise designed to help him prey on boys, girls, and adults for his own sexual gratification.
During Jane’s testimony Thursday, she described to jurors the lengths Kelly would allegedly go to hide his relationship with the teenager, including handing her money at the start of every video encounter. Crying on the stand, she explained the rationale behind handing her money was “because if anyone saw the tape or if it was released for some reason, he would say I was a prostitute.”
By 2000, she said, the Chicago Police Department began investigating her relationship—and she denied its existence because the singer told her he would be ruined if the truth came out.
“That was something I would take to my grave,” Jane said.
But two years later, her aunt—singer Stephanie “Sparkle” Edwards”—informed her that there “was a sex tape leaked” of her with the singer and it would soon be made public, she testified.
“I was scared,” Jane said, noting that Kelly stressed, “how important it was to continue to deny it.” The looming reality that the tape might be made public, however, led Kelly to tell Jane’s parents about their sexual relationship, she said, in a revelation that made her father “hysterical.”
“There was a lot of negative attention happening around the videotape and Robert wanted us to leave the country to pretty much clear our heads and figure out approaches going forward,” Jane testified in court. She said that Kelly decided to send her and her family to the Bahamas so they could not be “accessible” to the press or police.
During that trip, Jane said, her parents finally came to the conclusion that “they were going to do as I asked” and support her decision to stick with Kelly. In April 2002, she said, she was subpoenaed to testify before a Cook County grand jury, where she lied under oath about her relationship with the singer.
Jane recalled that during that testimony, she said: “that I was not involved with [Kelly] sexually and that we had never made any videotapes.” Ultimately, she said, the abuse lasted until she was 24 years old, and included Kelly controlling every aspect of her life.
A few years ago, she said, she came clean about Kelly’s abuse to law enforcement.
When asked why, Jane paused for a few moments before saying: “Because I became exhausted with living with his lies.”