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R. Kelly dancer describes seeing singer have sex with underage Aaliyah

"He told us that we had to pay our dues," a woman who was allegedly 14 or 15 when started having sex with R. Kelly testified Monday.

BROOKLYN (CN) — A former backup singer and dancer for R. Kelly testified in court on Monday that she saw the R&B singer engaging in a sex act with Aaliyah, who would have been no more than 14 at the time. 

Kelly’s federal trial follows decades of sexual abuse allegations, including the abuse of minors. Evidence shown in court shows that in August of 1994, Kelly, then 27, married the singer Aaliyah at age 15. Seven years later, the "Are You That Somebody?" would die in a plane crash. 

According to a woman who testified Monday under the name Angela, Kelly’s sexual relationship with Aaliyah began in 1992 or 1993. She described a moment while traveling with Kelly when she was trying to pull a prank, and opened up the back room on Kelly’s tour bus parked near Washington, D.C. 

“I saw Robert and Aaliyah in a sexual situation,” Angela said, referring to Kelly and the star whose full name was Aaliyah Dana Haughton. “It appeared to be that he had his head in between her legs and was giving her oral sex.”

Aaliyah would have been 13 or 14 at the time.

A few years earlier, the witness testified, she herself was just 14 or 15 when Kelly has sex with her. She said the relationship began when Kelly instructed her to “straddle him,” and they continued to have sex for several years after that.

Angela said Kelly also encouraged his teenage backup singer to skip school, saying they had a choice between performing with him and finishing their education. 

Having sex with Kelly was also mandatory, Angela said. 

“He told us that we had to pay our dues,” she said. “It was a requirement to be around.” 

Sometimes, as previous victims testified, sex was used as a punishment. Angela recalled one time when she and other young female performers — including Aaliyah, Kelly’s “protégé” — left their hotel room against Kelly's wishes. On their way back, they ran into Kelly. 

“Robert told us, all of us, we would have to put out,” Angela said. “It was dues time.” 

Angela and other backup artists for Kelly were asked to be part of Aaliyah’s entourage while Kelly was guiding her into the music business. 

“He told her that we were gonna give her her street vibe,” Angela said, “and we were gonna be there to be her friends as well.” 

Now 54, Kelly is charged in the Eastern District of New York with violating federal anti-racketeering law and the Mann Act. Victims have testified that his live-in girlfriends and other women and girls involved with the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer were held to strict “rules” while, like being told to wear baggy clothing and avoid looking at or speaking to men other than Kelly. 

Kelly allegedly directed employees and friends to hand out his phone number at concerts and parties to recruit new sexual partners. The singer is also accused of knowingly transmitting herpes to multiple sexual partners, despite knowledge of having the virus since at least the early 2000s, as his former doctor testified. 

Following Angela’s testimony, a 31-year-old man testified under the name Alex, describing being groomed for sex with Kelly starting when he was 16 years old. 

When Alex was a junior in high school, his best friend, who previously testified under the name Louis, brought him to a party at Kelly’s mansion in Olympia Fields, Illinois. Kelly told Alex he would look out for him and make him the singer’s hype man, promising jobs. 

But, echoing the story told by aspiring singers and dancers who say they became part of Kelly’s decades-long sex ring, those were empty promises. Instead, Kelly turned the relationship sexual, first with an encounter in the singer’s Maybach parked outside his home. 

“I remember him talking to me, then just forcefully kissing me and licking my face,” Alex said. He was 20 years old at the time, and remembered being “numb, shocked,” as Kelly told him to “be open-minded.” 

Alex spoke to details heard in previous testimony: that Kelly referred to him as “Nephew,” and instructed him to have sex with other women — sometimes, as the women testified, as punishment for disobeying rules — always with Kelly present, directing every move, usually recording the encounters on an iPad. 

Among Kelly’s rules were to call him “Daddy,” and to display enthusiasm for sexual encounters, even when those participating did not want to be. Alex described the women he was told to have sex with as being “zombie-ish.” 

After sexual encounters, Kelly would often “slap a hundred or two in my hand, for gas,” Alex said. Unlike the female victims who have testified, Alex did not join the entourage in public, and Kelly told him to tell anyone who asked that he was the singer’s stylist. 

Alex apparently extended that instruction to his interview with the government. During cross-examination, he told defense attorney Deveraux Cannick that he had indeed told federal agents that he picked out outfits for Kelly’s concerts. 

“That was the things he wanted me to say,” Alex explained. “When you’re brainwashed for so long —”

“How long were you brainwashed?” asked Cannick, of the firm Aiello & Cannick, after Alex trailed off. 

On the stand, Alex paused, then said, “objection.” 

Attorneys, and spectators in the overflow courtroom for media and the public due to the pandemic, laughed at the brief moment of levity during what has been an intense, weekslong trial. Cannick had no further questions. 

Outside the courthouse, supporters of Kelly held up a banner and chanted, “free R. Kelly” and “one man ain’t no enterprise.” Kelly fans and supporters have attended every day of trial so far. 

The government will continue presenting its case on Tuesday, and is expected to rest later this week. 

Follow Nina Pullano on Twitter.

Categories:Criminal, Entertainment

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