CHICAGO (CN) — One of R. Kelly's alleged sexual abuse victims testified in his federal trial in Chicago on Thursday, telling jurors the former R&B star made multiple sex tapes featuring her in 1998. R. Kelly was 31 at the time while the woman, going by the trial pseudonym Jane, was only 14.
Four alleged video tapes featuring Jane are at the heart of the government's case against Kelly and his co-defendants Derrel McDavid and Milton Brown. Federal prosecutors allege that, besides making the videos, Kelly worked for years to cover them up after they were leaked to the public in 2001.
Jane said her sexual relationship with Kelly began after they had already known each other for about two years. She said she first met Kelly in 1996 when he came to a gospel performance at her community church in Chicago. He came at the invitation of Jane's aunt Stephanie, whom Jane said was in a romantic relationship with Kelly at the time.
Jane told prosecutors she was "excited" to meet Kelly, as she comes from a musical background herself. In 1996 she was part of what she called a "Christian hip hop group" that included her cousins, and her parents and aunt Stephanie - who goes by the stage name Sparkle - had musical careers of their own.
"He came to a gospel concert at my church... I was excited, I knew his level of success... I was excited like any other fan," Jane said in court.
Her excitement only grew, she said, when several months after meeting Kelly in church, he attended a performance by Jane's hip hop group.
"[Kelly] told me I did a great job, he gave me pointers on how to handle the stage," Jane said. "It made me feel accomplished... that such a successful person was saying I was gifted."
Federal prosecutors have alleged that Kelly played on Jane's music career ambitions to earn her trust and open her up to the possibility of a sexual relationship.
Following this second encounter, Jane told prosecutors she began to see Kelly very frequently through Sparkle. She often visited his $3 million home in Chicago, as well as his Chicago Trax recording studio. Eventually, Jane said, Sparkle pushed her to ask Kelly to become her honorary godfather.
"[Sparkle] said I should ask him to be my godfather... that I should rub his head and ask him to take that role in my life." Jane said. Kelly "chuckled and said yes," she said, adding that her parents also approved.
Jane said her sexual relationship with Kelly began when she was 14, after he became her godfather.
"It became sexual... he would ask me questions [on the phone] like, 'what color panties are you wearing?'" Jane said.
These sexually charged conversations, she testified, eventually became phone sex, then physical contact, then penetrative intercourse. And all before she turned 16.
Jane said her parents would sometimes take her to Kelly's house on the weekends they planned to have sex together. They trusted Kelly, Jane said, and thought of it as her just "spending the weekend at [her] godfather's house."
She further claimed that Kelly plied her with alcohol from the age of 14, and that he pressured her to bring her similarly underage friends – referred to in court as Pinky and Brittany – into their sexual relationship. Jane said she had threesomes with her friends and Kelly multiple times, but that competition for the singer's affection eventually led to a falling out between the girls.
Jane's extensive testimony on Thursday represents an about-face from her position in 2002, when she denied being in any of R. Kelly's alleged sex tapes before an Illinois grand jury. Kelly faced 21 child porn charges in 2008 in Illinois state court over the same videos at the heart of this federal case. He was eventually acquitted of all of them, thanks in part to Jane's denial.
Federal prosecutors alleged in their 2019 indictment of Kelly that he pressured her to lie to the 2002 grand jury, but as of press time, Jane had not explained to the court what convinced her to change testimony. Likewise, Kelly's defense team had not had a chance to cross-examine her.
Kelly's lead defense attorney Jennifer Bonjean alleged in her opening statements on Wednesday that Jane only agreed to testify in exchange for a federal immunity deal, though no deal is mentioned in any court filings attached to the case.
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