R. Kelly once more denied the charges of kidnapping, racketeering, sexual exploitation, and forced labor in Brooklyn, New York federal court. The prosecution labeled the singer as a “sexual predator” who filmed the abuse of his victims. The heartwrenching testimony was heard on Wednesday, August 19th, when former associates and “girlfriends” gave statements about the nightmare they went through in Kelly’s Chicago mansion.
They described the experience as a “nightmare” where the disgraced R&B star controlled their every move. The abusive demeanor extended so far where the singer demanded from the girls to seek his approval when they needed to leave the premises or even go to the bathroom. The so-called “Rob’s rules” also included the specific attire girls had to wear when they were outside of the mansion – like baggy clothes that wouldn’t accentuate their body shape.
Jerhonda Johnson Pace (28) testified that she first saw Robert Sylvester Kelly in the Chicago courtroom in 2008 when he was facing child pornography charges. She was a spectator and a huge Kelly fan. When he was acquitted in June of 2008, their relationship started. Pace, who was 16 years old at the time without any sexual experience, initially told Kelly that she was 19. She eventually admitted to Kelly her true age to which he responded: “Continue to tell everyone you are 19 and act like 21”.
Over the course of six months, Pace and Kelly had numerous unprotected sexual intercourse. As a result, Pace was diagnosed with genital herpes. Being that she was a minor and a virgin, the conclusion imposes itself. To cover up his tracks and to prevent Pace from going to the doctor, Kelly arranged an examination of the victim at his home. She got the medicine and was sent on her way.
Jerhonda also had to follow Rob’s rules. “I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone I was spending time with him. He didn’t want me in contact with anyone but him,” Pace said. “We were not able to leave out of the rooms. It was a part of the rules — Rob’s rules”, Pace added. In the documentary “Surviving R. Kelly”, Jahronda also said that her cell phone was taken from her, cutting her off from her friends and family.
Their abusive and sadistic relationship ended in January of 2010 after Pace failed to “acknowledge his presence” in the room. He physically abused her and forced her to perform oral sex on him. The 16-year old managed to keep her sanity and save the evidence on the shirt she was wearing that day. Pace later turned the shirt to her attorney and filed a civil suit against Kelly. The DNA matched Kelly’s and the case was settled with the singer paying Pace $1.5 million in damages.
Kelly pleaded not guilty to all charges. Besides New York’s outstanding case, the 54-year old will have to face 36 federal charges filed against him in Illinois and Minnesota. R. Kelly’s defense team who represents him since he ended up behind bars in 2019 labeled Pace as a “self-proclaimed liar”. The singer’s lawyers also claimed that every intercourse was consensual and that these are just claims of the “disgruntled groupie”.
However, the reluctant testimony from Kelly’s former manager Demetrius Smith (65) shook the courtroom nullifying the defense claims. Smith showed up with his attorney visibly upset and grouchy that he was put in the position of revealing the secret life of his former client. Specifically, the New York prosecutor was focused on Kelly’s marriage with the late singer Aaliyah who was 15 years of age at the time. US District Judge Ann Donnelly was persistent, allowing the prosecutor to grill Smith until he unveiled the details regarding the relationship that happened back in 1994.
Smith was repeatedly consulting with his lawyer, and when they were finally backed into the corner he started talking. Supposedly, Aaliyah got pregnant with R. Kelly which got him worried since she was a minor at the time. To get out of the situation, Kelly asked Smith, the manager, and the problem-solver, to take care of the matter by obtaining an official state welfare ID card. Smith bribed the government worker with $500 to change Aaliyah’s date of birth listing her as an 18-year old.
Smith, visibly irritated by the relentless questioning, said he did it to “protect Kelly, protect Aaliyah”. The couple filed for a marriage license in Chicago’s Cook County and got married. Kelly was 27 years old at the time. The marriage was annulled one year later after Aaliyah’s family found out about the relationship.
Aaliyah was killed in a plane accident in 2001 along with eight other people while coming back from the Caribbean. She was 22 years old. Aaliyah’s family had no comment regarding Kelly’s charges.