Updated: August 31, 2021 2:12:56 pm
Written by Troy Closson
The racketeering trial of R&B star R. Kelly resumed Monday with the testimony of two new accusers, one who described Kelly raping her when she was underage.
The woman, identified only by her first name, Addie, testified that she told the singer she was 17 at the time of the encounter, which took place backstage after a concert. And a man who testified under a pseudonym in the afternoon said he was 17 when Kelly said he would help the boy’s music career if he engaged in sex acts.
The woman was the fourth to testify that she was underage during a sexual encounter with Kelly — accounts that have often included physical and sexual abuse.
The singer, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, has denied the accusations and pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, which include a single count of racketeering and eight counts of violating an interstate anti-sex trafficking law known as the Mann Act.
Prosecutors have accused Kelly, 54, of running a decades-long criminal plot that used his fame — and a network of associates and employees — to prey on women and girls for sex. Kelly is not charged with rape or sexual assault, and many of the accusations against him fall outside the statute of limitations for those crimes. But the racketeering indictment allows prosecutors to present evidence of any potential crimes related to the charge, regardless of when they occurred.
This is what happened as the third week of Kelly’s trial began:
A man accuses R. Kelly of abuse for the first time
The first man to accuse Kelly of sexual abuse at his trial testified Monday that he was a 17-year-old aspiring rapper when Kelly asked him what he “was willing to do” to advance his music career — and that the singer brought the teenager to his garage and crawled up to him to perform a sex act on him.
“He just told me we had to keep it between me and him,” the man, who testified under the name Louis, a pseudonym, told jurors Monday, adding that Kelly told him, “‘We’re family now. We’re brothers.’”
The two first met around 2006, when Louis was a senior in high school and working at a McDonald’s in the Chicago area. The singer gave him and another worker his phone number while in the drive-thru line, Louis testified.
Louis said that his mother called Kelly, hopeful that the entertainer could help further her son’s music ambitions, and Kelly invited the family to a party at his mansion. While there, the two took a photo and the singer whispered in his ear that he should come back to other parties alone, Louis told jurors.
Afterward, Louis twice traveled to Kelly’s studio, known as the Chocolate Factory, to record music and receive feedback, he said. Their first sexual encounter came after the singer invited Louis under a similar guise, he said, and then asked if he “had any fantasies” involving men once he arrived.
As they continued to meet, Louis said Kelly began to call him a “little brother,” told him to refer to him as “Daddy” and recorded their sexual encounters. He said that he kept seeing Kelly because he “really wanted to make it,” and that he took friends to some of the singer’s parties. Louis said Kelly asked him to “keep bringing” back one of his best friends.
The friend was a 16-year-old boy who later received Kelly’s phone number, Louis said, and court documents say that Kelly began having sexual encounters with him, too, while he was underage. On one occasion, the singer directed the two to “touch each other” sexually, Louis testified, but they refused.
At another point, Louis told jurors, he and Kelly met at his home in Olympia Fields, Illinois, in a garage set up as a workout area. Kelly “snapped his fingers two times,” Louis testified, and a naked “young lady” crawled out from under a boxing ring that was in the room.
Kelly instructed her to perform a sex act on himself, and then on Louis, he said.
“It was just a weird situation,” Louis said. “It was uncomfortable.”
Kelly, who has appeared impassive through most of the trial, seemed to become agitated by Louis’ testimony, wiping his head and clutching his mask while the man was on the stand Monday. As Louis spoke, Kelly shook his head and folded his hands.
The man said his interactions with Kelly continued for several years. Louis recently pleaded guilty to attempted bribery for offering money to a potential witness against Kelly if she agreed to stop cooperating with the government.
He said he did not want to testify Monday, but entered an agreement to do so in exchange for the government notifying the judge on his case of his cooperation.
Kelly’s legal team homed in on the details of the agreement in its cross-examination.
“You have to be truthful according to what the government finds to be truthful?” asked Deveraux L. Cannick, one of Kelly’s lawyers, suggesting Louis’s accounts had been fabricated or embellished.
Another accuser says R. Kelly knew she was underage
A woman named Addie testified Monday that when she was 17 years old, Kelly invited her backstage after a performance. She told him that she was underage, she said, and he assaulted her.
It was September 1994 and she and her best friend were at a concert in Miami, where R&B star Aaliyah had been scheduled to perform and Kelly was the closing act, Addie said. Just two days earlier, other witnesses have testified, the two artists were illegally married; Aaliyah was 15 at the time, and Kelly was 27.
After Kelly’s performance, two men “who looked like bouncers” approached Addie and her friend and told them that they could go backstage for an autograph, she said.
The two were taken to a large dressing room, Addie told jurors. She said he gave her his autograph and she told him that she was “an aspiring artist.” Kelly gave her his room number at a hotel and encouraged her to come audition, she said. But she told him that she was 17, and did not even know if she was allowed backstage.
Kelly then cleared the room, and told the pair “he wanted to play a game” to see “who could kiss better.” He kissed her friend, she said, and then began to kiss Addie as well, she testified.
“He started getting a little more aggressive,” she said, and directed her to the back of the room. He held her wrists, unzipped her shorts and had unprotected sexual intercourse with her, she said. “At this point, I was in complete shock,” she continued. “I just went blank.”
Afterward, Addie and her friend “ran out of there,” she said. Her friend wanted her to contact the police and press charges, she said. But Addie feared that she would be “blacklisted” from the entertainment industry if she did.
“I didn’t even know if they would believe me,” she said. “I didn’t want to be victim-shamed.”
During cross-examination, Cannick questioned Addie about the delay between the attack and her report to the police, which was filed in 2019.
“I didn’t want more victim-shaming and more trauma at that time,” said Addie, who is now 44.
“I’m an adult now,” she said. “I’m no longer a little girl.”
R. Kelly brought women to his basketball games who seemed ‘isolated’ and behaved strangely, a former associate says
A man who worked with Kelly testified that the two played basketball together in Atlanta — but that the behavior of the women who the R&B singer brought to their games seemed strange.
“They would actually sit in the corner, away from everybody,” the man, Derrick Stevens, said, describing them as “isolated” from the larger group.
If one of the players needed to approach them to retrieve a ball, the women “would cross their legs and look at the ceiling, or the wall,” said Stevens, who helped with Kelly’s business deals and coordinated his collaborations with other artists for a short time, starting in 2013.
His testimony served to bolster the account of another woman, who testified last week that she and others went to Kelly’s basketball games on several occasions, but were barred from engaging with other male players, per one of the singer’s strict rules.
“We would just have to watch the defendant play, and only him,” the woman, who testified under a pseudonym, told jurors last week. “If we ended up looking at another man, we would get a chastising for it,” she said, referencing the spankings and physical abuse she said Kelly would dole out when his rules were broken.