R. Kelly Said He Liked ‘Young Girls,’ His Third Accuser Testifies
Stephanie was 17 and out to dinner with R. Kelly and two rappers, she said, when Mr. Kelly said something that surprised her: He liked “young …
Stephanie was 17 and out to dinner with R. Kelly and two rappers, she said, when Mr. Kelly said something that surprised her: He liked “young girls,” and he did not understand why people made such a big deal of it.
“Even look at Jerry Lee Lewis,” the woman said she heard Mr. Kelly remark. “He’s a genius and I’m a genius. We should be allowed to do what we want — look at what we give to the world.”
Mr. Lewis, also a famous musician, once married his 13-year-old cousin.
The woman, who testified under the pseudonym Stephanie, is the third accuser to take the stand at Mr. Kelly’s trial in Brooklyn. Mr. Kelly, 54, is charged with racketeering and with eight violations of the Mann Act, a federal anti-sex trafficking law. He has pleaded not guilty, and has consistently denied the accusations against him.
Stephanie, now 39, is one of six women whose encounters with Mr. Kelly make up the heart of the prosecution’s case, as they seek to convince jurors that the singer used his fame — and a network of employees and associates — to build a system of physical, sexual and psychological abuse.
During her testimony on Thursday afternoon, Stephanie said that the singer, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, preyed upon her beginning in the summer of 1999, when she was 17 and approached him to ask if her friend could audition for him.
“He said, yeah, that he thought he could arrange that, but also he’d like to get to know me,” she said. “And also that he likes to cuddle and would I be OK with that?”
She agreed, and before long Mr. Kelly was having sex with her.
“That was definitely the hardest time of my life,” she told the jury. “I had very low self-esteem. I’d already been through sexual trauma within my family, by my first boss, by men on the street. I was very vulnerable.”
Their interactions lasted about six months, mostly while Stephanie was 17, she said, noting that she was always upfront about her age, but that the singer didn’t care.
Stephanie recalled that Mr. Kelly had two sides: “He was very nice and charming, jovial,” she said, “Or he was very controlling, intimidating. He would raise his voice at me and could put the fear of God in me very quickly.”
She said that he was particularly controlling during sex.
“It was humiliating,” she said. “He would be very specific about how he would want me to be. He would put me in positions he wanted me to be in,” she said, noting that sometimes he would direct her to get completely naked, assign her a position and then leave the room — sometimes for hours.
Understand the R. Kelly Trial
What are the charges? Mr. Kelly is facing one charge of racketeering based on sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping and forced labor, and eight counts of violating the Mann Act, which prohibits transporting anyone across state lines for prostitution.
Who is testifying? The trial centers around six women, several of whom are expected to testify. Prosecutors say the singer physically abused and psychologically manipulated many of them and controlled several aspects of their lives, including when they could eat and use the bathroom. At least three were underage.
His marriage to Aaliyah. Part of the case involves R. Kelly’s marriage to singer Aaliyah, who was 15 when they wed in 1994. Mr. Kelly’s former tour manager testified that R. Kelly bribed a government employee in 1994 so that he could obtain a fake ID for her.
The 2008 trial. The performer was acquitted in a high-profile criminal case brought against him on child pornography charges in 2008. The trial was centered on a videotape that prosecutors said showed the R. Kelly having sex with a 14-year-old girl. She refused to testify. Here’s a full timeline of the allegations.
If he returned and she was not still in the same position, he would become angry, she said.
Accusations of criminal activity that dates to the 1990s would typically be too old to prosecute. But the racketeering charge, which claims that Mr. Kelly was the head of a criminal scheme that preyed on women and underage girls for sex, allows the government to introduce evidence from any time that was part of the conspiracy that prosecutors are seeking to prove.
Accusations against Mr. Kelly have piled up in testimony since his trial began last Wednesday.
Over three days this week, a woman who testified under a pseudonym told the jury that she had spent almost five years with the singer, with their sexual encounters beginning when she was 17.
She accused Mr. Kelly of pressuring her to get an abortion and said that he had once beaten her with a Nike sneaker. On multiple occasions, she said, he directed her to have sex with a man she didn’t know.
The woman, now 23, was once among Mr. Kelly’s most vocal defenders. She stayed with Mr. Kelly through his arrest, and remained with the singer even after his incarceration. But she testified this week that Mr. Kelly had scripted her answers to questions during a high-profile television interview in 2019, some of which she said were lies.
And last week, Jerhonda Pace became the first of his accusers to ever testify against him in court, telling the jury that her sexual encounters with the singer started when she was 17.