Tuesday, November 29, 2022 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Former R. Kelly girlfriend says singer forced her to have an abortion

“Be glad that you have someone to make the decisions,” the singer wrote according to a text message read aloud in court.

BROOKLYN (CN) — The second alleged victim to take the stand at R. Kelly’s federal trial accused the R&B singer of physically abusing her and his other girlfriends and forcing her to have an abortion after she became pregnant with his child. 

Jane Doe 5 broke into tears at several points during her shocking all-day testimony on Monday. She said Kelly directed her to have sex with at least 10 other women against her preference, including his other live-in girlfriends and personal assistants, and handed down abusive and degrading punishments when any of them disobeyed his rules, which controlled their every move.

Trial began last Wednesday in the Eastern District of New York, where Kelly, 54, faces a nine-count indictment charging him with racketeering and Mann Act violations that include kidnapping and coercing minors into a sex ring that lasted for decades. 

When she was 17 years old, Jane Doe 5 said, she and Kelly convinced her parents to let the high school senior and aspiring R&B artist attend class remotely, starting in the fall of 2015, so that she could live with the singer in Chicago. Courthouse News is not identifying the witness by name at the request of the government. 

In 2017, Doe discovered she was pregnant. She read a text message from Kelly after giving him the news, in which the singer told her he loved her and to “be patient,” apparently referring to starting a family together. 

“Be glad that you have someone to make the decisions,” Kelly wrote, as read aloud to the courtroom. “I want to groom you and be bonded with you.” 

Assistant U.S. District Attorney Elizabeth Geddes asked if the witness wanted to get an abortion. 

“I did not,” Doe replied, explaining that an assistant named Diana had booked the appointment and accompanied her. 

As other witnesses have testified, Doe said Kelly insisted his girlfriends follow “rules,” like wearing baggy clothes and calling him “Daddy,” and limited their contact with people other than Kelly. In elevators, for example, Kelly’s girlfriends had to turn and face the corner. And while watching Kelly play basketball, they were only to watch Kelly himself, not the other players. 

Disobeying the rules had consequences: Doe said she was once left in a room for three or four days because she bought sweats in a size extra small — the witness said she is 4-foot-11 and weighed 98 pounds around that time — instead of a size large, as Kelly wanted.

She also described intense physical abuse of herself and other female victims, saying Kelly would slap and punch them, drag women by the hair and beat them using shoes and a cord. Kelly would regularly spank victims as punishment, calling it “chastising” them, she testified. 

In one particularly horrific punishment Doe described, she was required to make a video in which she smeared feces on her own face. Kelly said other girlfriends had made similar videos, according to the testimony. 

To secure their obedience, Kelly made his live-in girlfriends write letters four or five times a year, falsely admitting to stealing money or jewelry from the singer, or accusing family members of molesting or abusing them, Doe said. 

It was April 2015, at an R. Kelly concert in Orlando, Florida — part of his “Black Panties” album tour — that Doe first met the R&B singer, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly. She testified that a member of Kelly’s entourage handed her a piece of paper with his name and phone number. 

Days later, the high school junior and aspiring R&B artist skipped her extracurricular activities to meet Kelly at the Dolphin Hotel for an audition. She recalled her outfit: black kitten heels, a pair of dark blue skinny jeans, and a crop top with mesh at the top. 

After she told Kelly she was 18, he told her he needed to ejaculate before he could hear her sing. When she declined, he asked her to walk back and forth wearing a bra and underwear, and insisted she let him perform oral sex on her. 

Then, police officers arrived. They were looking for Doe, she testified; her parents hadn’t been able to reach her because Kelly had ordered her to turn off her phone. 

“He was very anxious and scared,” testified Doe, who is one of six victims listed in Kelly’s indictment. 

After checking her ID, the officers left the witness with Kelly in the hotel room, and told the singer that “if he was ever in Orlando and needed security, to let them know,” she testified. 

Doe is the second witness to describe contracting herpes from Kelly. Symptoms started while she was still 17, she said, and she began taking the same “blue pills” as Kelly, pills that Kelly’s physician described as Valtrex during his Friday testimony.

“I couldn’t physically even walk” because of the pain when she first showed signs of having the virus, Doe said, breaking down in tears because Kelly “had given me something that he knew he had. A situation that he could have controlled.” 

Direct examination of the witness will continue on Tuesday.

Follow Nina Pullano on Twitter

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.