What to Know
- One of R. Kelly’s accusers has told a jury that he kept a gun by his side while he berated her before forcing her to give him oral sex in a Los Angeles music studio
- The witness said the intimidation tactics were all part of an abusive relationship that began when she was 19
- Jurors also heard testimony from a pastor who wed Kelly and the singer Aaliyah when she was 15. Kelly denies any wrongdoing
One of R. Kelly’s accusers testified on Wednesday that he kept a gun by his side while he berated her as a prelude to forcing her to give him oral sex in a Los Angeles music studio.
“He had a weapon, so I wasn’t going to step out of line,” the witness said while recounting the 2018 episode at the R&B singer's New York City sex-trafficking trial.
Later in the day, the jury also heard brief testimony from a pastor who secretly wed Kelly and budding musical artist Aaliyah when she was 15 years old. He described publicly for the first time how they wore matching “jogging suits” — each with one pant leg pulled up — for a 10-minute ceremony at a Chicago-area hotel.
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The previous witness said that at the time she spotted Kelly with a gun, he demanded to know, “How many men have you seen naked?” He also instructed her to act “excited like a puppy” whenever she saw him, adding, “I still have a lot to teach you.”
She testified the last time she saw Kelly at a New York City hotel suite, she resisted having sex with him. She said he responded by warning her not to defy him, saying, “I'm a f—-ing legend.”
Kelly’s alleged intimidation tactics were all part of an abusive sexual relationship that started when the woman was 19 and resulted in her getting herpes from him, she said. After she filed police reports and sued him for failing to disclose an STD, he and his supporters threatened that they would release nude photos and other compromising material about her if she persisted with her allegations, she said.
The woman testified while only using her first name to protect her privacy.
The pastor, Nathan Edmond, testified he was recruited to marry Kelly and Aaliyah in 1994 as a favor for a friend after he was shown a marriage license claiming she was 18. He said he didn't recognize the groom or the bride, who was wearing her hair down over her face.
“I didn't know it was anyone special,” Edmond said.
Prosecutors say Kelly wanted to use the marriage, which was later annulled, to shield himself from criminal charges related to having sex with a minor and to prevent her from testifying against him.
Aaliyah, whose full name was Aaliyah Dana Haughton, worked with Kelly, who wrote and produced her 1994 debut album, “Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number.” She died in a plane crash in 2001 at age 22.
Kelly, 54, has repeatedly denied accusations that he preyed on victims during a 30-year career. His lawyers have portrayed his accusers as groupies who are lying about their relationships with him.
The trial has so far featured a steady stream of accusers claiming Kelly began sexually degrading them when they were still in their teens. They said he used his stardom to lure them into an insular world where he watched their every move and doled out perverse punishments, spanking them and isolating them in hotel rooms if they broke a vow to never speak about him to anyone else.
Kelly’s personal physician has also testified, saying he treated him for herpes for several years.
The trial is unfolding under coronavirus precautions restricting the press and the public to overflow courtrooms with video feeds. That’s made it difficult to discern the reactions of Kelly, who has been jailed since his federal indictment was announced in 2019.