CHICAGO (CN) — R. Kelly accuser Lisa Van Allen was the star witness in the former R&B singer's federal trial in Chicago on Thursday, offering a tearful recounting of her experiences leading up to Kelly's 2008 child porn trial in Cook County.
Much of her testimony revolved around three separate threesomes that Kelly allegedly recorded of himself, Van Allen and a then-underage girl going by the pseudonym "Jane" between 1998 and 2000. Van Allen said she was already 18 when she first met Kelly in 1998 on the set of his "Home Alone" music video and moved to Chicago to be with him not long afterward. Van Allen also said she knew Jane was underage when they began having threesomes.
Earlier in the trial, Jane testified she was 14 when she began having sexual encounters with Kelly in 1998.
Van Allen said she had not wanted to go through with the trio of threesomes — only doing so to appease Kelly, who she said would sometimes beat her. Her breaking point allegedly came when Jane announced in 2000 that Kelly had bought her a P.T. Cruiser for her 16th birthday. Van Allen said she thought Jane was 16 when they first met.
"I was told that she was 16 two years prior to that... I didn't want any more [sexual] encounters with Jane," after that, Van Allen said.
Her testimony also corroborated Jane's statements last week that Kelly made explicit reference to Jane's underage status in one of the recordings. Specifically, she said Kelly and Jane discussed Jane's "14-year-old pussy."
Continuing her story, Van Allen said she was eventually able to view the scenes featuring herself and Jane when she was alone in his studio. She said she took the tape with the scenes out of Kelly's duffel bag and sent them to her friend Keith Murrell, a former artist in the music group "Talent," in Kansas City.
"I didn't want him watching it," she said, adding. "I sent it to Keith in Kansas City... I wanted to get it out of my possession."
After sending the tape away, Van Allen said she got away from Kelly by moving to Atlanta. She claimed to have no contact with the tape for several years afterward, until she heard from Murrell in 2007 that another Kansas City man in Kelly's employ was looking for Kelly's leaked sex tapes.
This man, named Charles Freeman, took the stand on Tuesday. He told prosecutors he knew Kelly from his work in merchandising on Kelly's tours in the early 90s, and that he had spoken with Kelly in 2001 "to recover some tapes he had lost." Freeman said he was subsequently hired by Kelly's private investigator Jack Palladino, as well as Kelly's co-defendant and former manager Derrel McDavid, to recover a tape in Atlanta in exchange for a promise of $1 million.
"Derrel [McDavid] said it was a performance tape they really needed to recover," Freeman said. If he got it back, Freeman added, McDavid said they "would take care of me."
Going to a residential address in Atlanta reportedly provided to him by Palladino, Freeman said he recovered a tape depicting "Robert Kelly with a young lady, having sex, urinating on her and putting lotion on her face."
Freeman said he returned the Atlanta tape to McDavid and Palladino, but soon after spoke with Keith Murrell himself. Murrell said he had another tape in his possession showing Kelly engaging in sex acts with a young girl. Freeman said he returned Murrell's tape as well, but despite making a copy of it on his cell phone as insurance, he said he never got $1 million. Following Kelly's 2008 acquittal on 21 child porn charges, he said he let the matter go. He claimed he only received about $600,000 total, in various installments, from McDavid.
"If the police [come after me] I'm gonna tell, but otherwise you all are good," Freeman said he told McDavid and Kelly following the 2008 trial.
On Thursday, Van Allen denied ever leaking the tape to anyone in Atlanta. But having found out from Murrell about Freeman, she said her then-fiancé Yul Brown contacted Kelly independently. She said she traveled to Chicago in 2007 to discuss getting Murrell's tape back with Kelly, and that he was willing to give her $250,000 for its return.
What allegedly followed was a series of Chicago meetings in 2007, in which Van Allen said McDavid and Kelly's former attorney Ed Genson subjected her to three separate polygraph tests. Lawrence Beaumont, a polygrapher who told prosecutors Thursday he administered those tests, said she passed two of them.
Though she said McDavid gave her a combined $70,000 over the course of attending these polygraph meetings, she also alleged McDavid told her he and Kelly should have "merc'd her" — i.e. killed her — "from the beginning."
While delivering this testimony, Van Allen frequently burst into tears and sobs, particularly when discussing McDavid's alleged "merc'd" comment.
"I didn't know they were thinking about killing me," she said.
The sincerity of her emotions and the truthfulness of her testimony was repeatedly questioned by McDavid's lead defense attorney Beau Brindley. Brindley spent most of Thursday afternoon poking holes in Van Allen's testimony; attempting to portray her as an unreliable witness by pointing out she had received an immunity deal from the U.S. Attorney's Office prior to testifying, and by highlighting inconsistencies between her statements Thursday and those she made during Kelly's 2008 trial.
He especially zeroed in on Van Allen statement Thursday that she saw a sex scene featuring only Jane and Kelly when she first watched the alleged sex tape in Kelly's studio, some two decades ago. She made the same statement in her appearance on the 2019 "Surviving R. Kelly" docuseries.
However, the transcript of the 2008 trial, which Brindley read aloud in court, has Van Allen saying, "I have never seen a tape with just Robert and Jane. Only me, Robert and Jane."
Brindley also asked Van Allen why she simply didn't destroy the tape, if she really wanted to deprive Kelly of viewing it as she claimed.
"You could have simply destroyed it," Brindley said.
"I could have, if it had crossed my mind," Van Allen responded.
After many heated exchanges between the pair, Brindley concluded his cross-examination by accusing Van Allen of being a professional victim; someone who was willing to lie in court and extort the defendants in this case for clout.
"Being a victim allows you to sell books," Brindley said.
Despite Brindley's withering comments, it is likely Van Allen is not yet in the clear. Kelly's own defense team, led by attorney Jennifer Bonjean, has yet to question her.
The trial as a whole is expected to last into mid-September.
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