Jurors on R. Kelly’s trial will hear more testimony from the woman who said the R&B star lured her to his mansion when she was a 16-year-old virgin, made her call him ‘daddy’ and choked her until she passed out, on day two of his federal sex abuse trial in New York.
Jerhonda Pace, 28, is expected to take the stand in Brooklyn’s Federal District Court again Thursday to tell the court about the six months of alleged abuse she suffered at the hands of Kelly.
Pace, named in court as ‘Jane Doe No. 4,’ was the first witness called by the prosecution Wednesday on the first day of Kelly’s long-awaited trial.
She is one of six women in the nine-count federal indictment which could see the biggest star in R&B spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Kelly is accused of being the ringleader of a criminal enterprise for more than two decades where he and his entourage procured women, underage boys and girls for Kelly’s sexual pleasure, abused and controlled his victims and used sex tapes to blackmail them.
Some of the victims were also allegedly trafficked across state lines for sex with the singer while he allegedly gave two of the accusers herpes by having unprotected sex with them and not disclosing he had the virus.
Jurors on R. Kelly’s trial will hear more testimony from the woman who said the R&B star lured her to his mansion when she was a 16-year-old virgin, made her call him ‘daddy’ and choked her until she passed out on day two of his federal sex abuse trial in New York. R. Kelly left and Jerhonda Pace right
Jerhonda Pace is shown a blue T-shirt that she told the court she had wiped R. Kelly’s spit and semen on in 2010 when she was 16 and he was 42
THE CHARGES R. KELLY IS ON TRIAL FOR IN NEW YORK:
R. Kelly is standing trial in Brooklyn federal court accused of being the ringleader of a sex ring involving women and underage girls and boys.
The charges were first brought in a five-count superseding indictment in Brooklyn federal court in July 2019.
In March 2020, he was slapped with additional charges upgrading the case to a nine-count indictment.
The charges relate to allegations involving six alleged victims – five women named as Jane Does in the indictment and the singer Aaliyah. These charges are:
ONE COUNT OF RACKETEERING
The racketeering charge includes 14 underlying acts including: one act of bribery, three acts of sexual exploitation of a child, one act of kidnapping, three acts of forced labor and six acts of violating the Mann Act.
Racketeering charges are used where there is an ‘enterprise’, mob or mafia running organized crime operations.
In this case, Kelly is accused of running a racketeering ‘enterprise’ for two decades made up of his ‘inner circle’ of managers, bodyguards and other employees who would help him recruit women, girls and boys for him to sexually exploit and traffic them around the US.
To convict Kelly on the racketeering charge, he must be found guilty of at least two of the 14 acts.
EIGHT COUNTS OF VIOLATING THE MANN ACT
The Mann Act is a federal law that makes it illegal to traffic people across state lines for prostitution or illegal sexual activity.
Four of these charges relate to an incident involving Jane Doe #5 in 2015 while the other four involve Jane Doe #6 in separate incidents in May 2017 and February 2018.
Three of these charges involve Kelly allegedly exposing the two women to herpes without informing them.
He is charged with nine counts including racketeering, sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, bribery, sex trafficking and forced labor between 1994 and 2018 relating to six alleged victims.
At least three of the alleged victims were underage and all were aged between 15 and 22 at the time of the alleged crimes.
One of the six women is late singer Aaliyah who Kelly married when she was just 15 and he was 27. Kelly is accused of bribing an Illinois official in 1994 to obtain fake ID for Aaliyah so they could wed in a scheme to silence the teen who was reportedly pregnant with his child.
Kelly strongly denies all the accusations.
He faces up to life in prison if convicted on all counts and is also facing separate state and federal charges in Illinois and Minnesota.
Pace testified Wednesday that she first met Kelly aged just 14 when she attended every day of his 2008 child pornography trial – in which he was found not guilty due to lack of sufficient evidence.
She said she then met up with Kelly at a party two years later when she was 16 and they began a sexual relationship.
When she told him her age and that she was a virgin, Kelly allegedly told her he was happy she was a virgin and urged her to pretend to be 21.
Over the next six months, Kelly forced her to follow his ‘rules’, took away her cell phone, denied her food or using the bathroom without his permission, and made her call him ‘daddy’, she told the court Wednesday.
Pace told jurors she last saw Kelly in 2010 when he spit on her, slapped her and choked her until she passed out. When she came around, he allegedly made her perform oral sex on him and he ejaculated on her face.
The court was shown the blue t-shirt that Pace said she used to wipe Kelly’s semen off her face following the encounter. The prosecution said it contained his DNA.
Before Pace took the stand, the defense and prosecution gave their opening statements kicking off the trial that is expected to last around a month.
Prosecutors described the 54-year-old as a ‘predator’ who used ‘every trick in the predator handbook’ to groom his victims, blackmailed them with sex tapes and violently beat them if they failed to comply with his demands.
However, Kelly’s attorney instead claimed that Kelly was the victim of ‘fans’ who wanted the ‘notoriety of being with a superstar’ and sought to discredit the accusers, telling jurors they will have to wade through ‘a mess of lies’.
The jury – of seven men and five women – are expected to hear testimony from multiple accusers during the trial including four of the five surviving accusers in the indictment – identified as Stephanie, Sonja, Jerhonda, Zel and Faith.
Defense sttorneys Thomas Farinella and Nicole Becker arrive for the second day of R. Kelly’s trial at Brooklyn Federal Court
The prosecution arriving Thursday for day two of the trial where the court will hear again from accuser Jerhonda Pace
Cooperating former associates are also expected to take the witness stand to testify how Kelly’s managers, bodyguards and other employees helped him recruit women and girls – and sometimes boys – for sexual exploitation.
Kelly was arrested on these federal charges in New York in 2019 and has been held behind bars for almost two years in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn – the same jail housing Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell.
The R&B star’s arrest and trial has been years in the making after he has faced accusations of sex abuse for decades, ever since his relationship with the Aaliyah came under the spotlight in 1994.
Allegations of sex tapes involving young girls started emerging and he was arrested on child porn charges in 2003.
The singer went to trial on these charges in Chicago in 2008 but was acquitted due to a lack of evidence, freeing him to revive his music career.
The allegations caught up with him again when several women spoke out about the alleged abuse by the star – and the coverup of his actions and silencing of his accusers by his inner circle – in the Lifetime documentary ‘Surviving R. Kelly.’
Kelly is perhaps best known for his smash hit ‘I Believe I Can Fly,’ a 1996 song that became an inspirational anthem played at school graduations, weddings, advertisements and elsewhere.
R. Kelly pictured in September 2019 in court in Chicago. Prosecutors said Wednesday the singer is a ‘predator’
Day one of R. Kelly’s trial: ‘Predator’ R. Kelly ‘said ‘that’s good’ when fan club member, 16, told him she was a virgin and once ‘choked her until she passed out’, first accuser tells the court
On day one of R. Kelly’s trial:
- Accuser Jerhonda Pace told the court she was sexually abused by Kelly when she was 16
- She told the court Kelly was happy she was a 16-year-old virgin because he wanted to ‘train her’ sexually
- He forced her to follow his ‘rules’, took away her cell phone, denying her food or using the bathroom without permission, and making her call him ‘daddy’, she told the court
- Pace told the court Kelly choked her unconscious in one incident in 2010 then made her perform oral sex on him; the court was shown the shirt Pace said she wiped Kelly’s semen on from the encounter
- Prosecutors described Kelly as a ‘predator’ who groomed his victims, blackmailed them with sex tapes and violently beat them if they didn’t comply with his demands
- The defense claimed Kelly was the victim of ‘fans’ who wanted the ‘notoriety of being with a superstar’ and told jurors they would be faced with a ‘mess of lies’
- Prosecutors said one alleged victim named ‘Sonja’ will testify that the singer locked her in a room for three days and sexually abused her while she was unconscious
- The judge denied the defense’s final bid to dismiss the case, where they had argued herpes is not life-threatening so Kelly shouldn’t be charged with passing the STD to a minor
- The judge also granted prosecutors permission to include evidence they claim shows sexual abuse by the star back in 1991 and which relates to the charges over his marriage to Aaliyah
On day one of R. Kelly’s trial, the court heard from Jerhonda Pace, one of six women in the federal indictment, who said she was sexually abused by the star when she was 16.
Pace testified that she first met Kelly aged 14 when she attended every day of his 2008 child pornography trial before meeting up with him again at a party two years later when she was 16 and he was 42. She said she told him initially she was 19.
Kelly then allegedly invited her to his mansion a few days later and told her to put on her swimsuit and disrobe in front of him.
When the two began kissing and he performed oral sex on her, she told the court she ‘felt uncomfortable’ lying about her age and told him she was actually 16 and showed him her state ID.
Kelly was allegedly happy she was a virgin, telling her ‘that’s good’ and said he ‘was going to train me on how to please him sexually,’ she testified.
Pace said she continued to see and have sex with Kelly over the next six months, with Kelly often filming their encounters.
During this time, Kelly allegedly made her follow a strict set of rules, including making her wear baggy clothes, having her call him ‘Daddy,’ taking her cell phone away and forbidding her from eating food or using the bathroom without his permission.
Pace said she was forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement, and a letter full of false admissions that claimed she had stolen money and jewelry from him, which prosecutors allege was a form of blackmail by Kelly.
On the final day she spent in Kelly’s house in 2010, Pace said she was distracted and didn’t immediately acknowledge Kelly’s presence when he entered so he slapped her and choked her until she passed out.
When she came around, he allegedly spat in her face and told her to put her head down in shame before making her perform oral sex on him.
Pace said Kelly ejaculated on her face and she wiped Kelly’s spit and semen on a blue T-shirt that was presented in court Wednesday as evidence.
Kelly (pictured in a court sketch Wednesday) is accused of being the ringleader of an underage sex ring involving women, underage boys and girls going back more than two decades
In the prosecution’s opening statements, Assistant US Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez told the jury Kelly used ‘every trick in the predator handbook’ to groom his victims, blackmailed them with sex tapes and violently beat them if they failed to comply with his demands.
‘This case is not about a celebrity who likes to party a lot,’ she said. ‘This case is about a predator.’
The prosecutor said Kelly lured in children and women by inviting them to join him after shows with backstage passes then ‘dominated and controlled them physically, sexually and psychologically.’
Kelly allegedly made his victims create sex tapes that he then used to blackmail them into silence and would punish his victims with ‘violent spankings and beatings’ if they didn’t do what he demanded of them.
However, Kelly’s defense instead claimed he was the victim of ‘fans’ who wanted the ‘notoriety of being with a superstar’ and had enjoyed ‘beautiful’, consensual relationships with him and were now turning on him.
Attorney Nicole Blank Becker accused the alleged victims of lying, warning jurors they’ll have to sort through ‘a mess of lies’ from women with an agenda.
‘We believe their testimony will crumble,’ Becker told jurors.
‘There will be so many untruths told to you, ladies and gentlemen, that even the government won’t be able to untangle the mess of lies.’
‘Don’t assume everybody’s telling the truth,’ she added.
Before opening statements, Judge Ann Donnelly threw out the defense’s final last-ditch attempt to dismiss the case.
Kelly’s attorneys had argued herpes is not life-threatening so Kelly shouldn’t be charged with passing it to a minor.
They specifically argued the herpes exposure charge should be dropped because herpes is a virus and not ‘an acute, bacterial venereal disease such as syphilis or gonorrhea.’
They also argued that racketeering charges should be dismissed because they said they fell outside the five-year statute of limitations.
The judge denied the request to dismiss the case early Wednesday.
She also ruled on other motions, including granting prosecutors permission to include evidence they claim shows sexual abuse by the star back in 1991 and which relates to the charges over his marriage to Aaliyah.
Timeline of R. Kelly’s downfall from R&B superstar to ‘sexual predator’
August 1994: At age 27, R. Kelly marries 15-year-old R&B singer Aaliyah D. Haughton. The couple weds in a secret ceremony arranged by Kelly at a hotel in Chicago. The marriage is annulled months later because of Aaliyah’s age. Aaliyah dies in a plane crash seven years later at age 22.
February 1997: Tiffany Hawkins files a complaint against Kelly alleging intentional sexual battery and sexual harassment while she was a minor. The lawsuit is reportedly settled for $250,000 the following January.
August 2001: Tracy Sampson files a lawsuit against Kelly, alleging their sex was illegal under Illinois law because he was in ‘a position of authority’ over her. The case was reportedly settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.
February 2002: The Chicago Sun-Times reported that it received a videotape allegedly showing Kelly having sex with a minor. The paper reported Chicago police began investigating allegations about Kelly and the same girl three years earlier. At the time, the girl and her parents denies she was having sex with Kelly.
June 2002: Kelly is indicted in Chicago on child pornography charges stemming from the sex tape. He pleads not guilty and is released on $750,000 bail.
January 2003: Kelly is arrested at a Florida hotel on additional child pornography charges after investigators said they found photos of him having sex with a girl. Charges are later dropped after the judge ruled police didn´t have a warrant to search Kelly’s house.
September 2005: Kelly’s wife Andrea Kelly asks for an order of protection from her husband, accusing the singer of hitting her when she said she wanted a divorce. The couple confirm they have divorced in 2009.
February 2006: Kelly’s brother, Carey Kelly, says his brother offered him $50,000 and a record deal to say he was the person on the sex video.
May 2008: Kelly’s child pornography trial begins. He is acquitted on all counts the next month after less than a full day of deliberations.
July 2017: BuzzFeed reports on parents’ claims that Kelly brainwashed their daughters and was keeping them in an abusive ‘cult.’ One woman says she was with Kelly willingly. Following the BuzzFeed report, activists launched the #MuteRKelly movement, calling for boycotts of his music.
April 2018: The Time’s Up campaign, devoted to helping women in the aftermath of sexual abuse, joins the #MuteRKelly social media campaign and pushes for further investigation into Kelly’s behavior, which had come under closer scrutiny over the previous year as women came forward accusing him of sexual coercion and physical abuse. Kelly´s camp responds: ‘We will vigorously resist this attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture.’
May 2018: Spotify cuts R. Kelly’s music from its playlists, citing its policy on hate content and hateful conduct. Shortly after, Apple and Pandora also stop promoting his music. Kelly’s team pushes back, noting other artists on Spotify had been accused or convicted of crimes.
The same month Faith Rodgers, 20, files a lawsuit accusing R. Kelly of sexual battery, mental and verbal abuse, and knowingly inflicting her with herpes during a yearlong relationship.
January 2019: Lifetime airs the documentary ‘Surviving R. Kelly,’ which revisited old allegations against him and brought new ones into the spotlight. The series followed the BBC’s ‘R Kelly: Sex, Girls & Videotapes,’ released the previous year, that alleged the singer was holding women against their will.
Lady Gaga apologizes for her 2013 duet with Kelly, saying she intended to remove the song, ‘Do What U Want (With My Body),’ from streaming services.
Faith Rogers says Kelly had written a letter the previous October to one of her lawyers, threatening to reveal embarrassing details of her sexual history if she didn’t drop her May 2018 lawsuit accusing him of sexual abuse.
Multiple media outlets reports Kelly and his label, Sony subsidiary RCA Records, part ways. Lady Gaga and Celine Dion remove their duets with Kelly from streaming services, and French rock band Phoenix apologizes for collaborating with Kelly in 2013. Kelly continues to deny all allegations of sexual misconduct.
February 2019: Attorney Michael Avenatti says he gave Chicago prosecutors new video evidence of Kelly having sex with an underage girl, and that it is not the same evidence used in Kelly’s 2008 trial.
Kelly is arrested and charged with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse. Kelly’s attorney enters not guilty pleas on the singer’s behalf. Hours later, Kelly posts bail and is released from jail in Chicago.
March 2019: CBS airs interview in which Kelly vehemently denied the sexual abuse charges against him. Later, authorities in Cook County take Kelly into custody after he tells a judge he couldn´t pay $161,000 in back child support he owed his children’s mother.
May 2019: Kelly is charged with 11 new sex-related counts in Chicago. They involve one of the women who accused him of sexually abusing her when she was underage.
July 2019: Kelly is indicted by a federal grand jury in Chicago on charges including child pornography, enticement of a minor and obstruction of justice. A separate indictment filed in the Eastern District of New York included charges of racketeering, kidnapping, forced labor and the sexual exploitation of a child. He is again arrested in Chicago.
A federal judge orders Kelly held in jail without bond after a prosecutor warned he would pose an extreme danger to young girls if set free.
August 2019: Kelly pleads not guilty to federal charges accusing him of sexually abusing women and girls who attended his concerts, as his lawyers continue to label the alleged victims disgruntled ‘groupies.’
Kelly is charged in Minnesota with prostitution and solicitation related to an allegation that he invited a 17-year-old girl to his hotel room in 2001 and paid her $200 to dance naked with him.
October 2019: Kelly is denied bail in his New York City sex abuse case after a judge agreed with prosecutors that freeing him from jail would create a risk of him fleeing or tampering with witnesses.
December 2019: Kelly is charged by federal prosecutors with paying a bribe in exchange for a ‘fraudulent identification document’ for an unidentified female a day before he married R&B singer Aaliyah. He later pleads not guilty.
March 2020: Kelly pleads not guilty in Chicago to an updated federal indictment that included child pornography charges and allegations involving a new accuser, while prosecutors say more charges alleging yet another victim were upcoming.
August 2020: Federal prosecutors announce charges against three men accused of threatening and intimidating women who have accused R&B singer Kelly of abuse, including one man suspected of setting fire to a vehicle in Florida.
Kelly’s manager is arrested in California on charges that he threatened a shooting at a Manhattan theater two years ago, forcing an evacuation and the cancellation of the screening of a documentary addressing allegations that the singer had sexually abused women and girls.
July 2021: Federal prosecutors in Kelly´s sex trafficking case say he had sexual contact with an underage boy in addition to girls, and the government wants jurors in his upcoming trial to hear those claims.
August 2021: Kelly’s long-anticipated federal trial begins in New York with opening statements on August 18.