CHICAGO — A mother whose daughter prosecutors say R. Kelly sexually abused her when she was 14 told a jury at the singer’s federal trial Monday that she lied to a state grand jury 20 years ago about her and her husband dating felt threatened by Kelly. And feared for his life if he told the truth.
The mother, who used the alias “Susan” in Chicago court, described how she, her husband and Kelly cried when the parents confronted the Grammy winner at a hotel in the early 2000s about molesting his daughter. She testified that they were shocked when Kelly told them, “You are with us or against us.”
He said he understood those words to mean “they would harm us if we didn’t do what they wanted us to do”. Instructions from Kelly and a colleague were that they had to lie, that her daughter was not in the child pornography video, and that they had to leave the country for several weeks immediately, she testified.
“We were very, very scared,” she told the jury.
She later said she lied to the grand jury “because we feared for our lives and were intimidated.” She said she also feared for the well-being of her daughter, who at the time warned her parents that if Kelly forbade them, she could commit suicide.
Kelly, 55, was accused of producing child pornography in his hometown, enticing underage girls to have sex and obstructing justice, successfully tampering with his child pornography trial in a state court in 2008, where he was acquitted.
Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison by a federal judge in New York in June 2021 on charges of racketeering and sex trafficking.
Susan’s daughter, who goes by the alias “Jane,” was one of the first witnesses for the prosecution since the trial began last week. Jen told jurors she lied to the same grand jury before the 2008 trial when she said she was not a 14-year-old girl in a video with Kelly. Jen, now 37, told jurors last week that she was, in fact, sexually abused by Kelly hundreds of times before she turned 18.
On Monday, Kelly attorney Jennifer Bonzen repeatedly asked Susan in an often controversial cross-examination whether she genuinely felt that Kelly or her associates posed a threat to her life.
“No one really threatened you, did they?” Bigwigs asked.
“Yes, they did,” Susan replied.
Bonjin also asked that Susan continue to see Kelly herself and her family for the next 20 years if she felt so threatened by Kelly. She replied that Kelly was her only income and paid her musician husband to work on the recordings. She also said that if they break up with Kelly, she is concerned for Jane’s well-being.
The husband, Jane’s father, died last year, she told the jury.
During her cross, Bonjean highlights Susan’s testimony that she lied to the Illinois grand jury and asks if she’s “telling the truth now.” Susan said she was.
Prosecutors at the Cook County State Attorney’s Office decided in the mid-2000s to pursue the prosecution and bring the case to court in 2008, knowing that this was a major roadblock: testimony via video. His inability to call the girl.
After Kelly was acquitted at the 2008 trial, some jurors told reporters they had no choice but to plead not guilty to Kelly because the girl – who was in her 20s at the time – was asking for confirmation. In fact, he did not take the witness stand in the video.
Federal prosecutors in the current trial are showing excerpts from this and other videos they say show Kelly sexually abusing 14-year-old Jane when she was about 30.
Kelly has been surrounded by allegations of her sexual behavior for decades. The investigation intensified during the #MeToo era and following the release of Lifetime’s television documentary, Surviving Are Kelly, in 2019.
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