R. Kelly’s Accusers Finally Share Their Stories in Court

The case sums up years of allegations of sexual abuse against the R&B artist

R. Kelly’s Accusers Finally Share Their Stories in Court
Photo:Photo by Antonio Perez – Pool via Getty Images (Getty Images)

On Thursday, a third woman testified at R. Kelly’s trial, alleging that the artist once told her that he “liked young girls” and that he should be allowed to do what he wants because he’s a “genius.”

Since Kelly’s trial began in New York last Wednesday, three different accusers have taken the stand to describe allegations of abuse and control against the R&B singer, many of which have been reported in multiple news stories and a Lifetime documentary series. After years of mounting allegations with little repercussions, Kelly now faces one charge of racketeering and eight violations of an anti-sex trafficking law known as the Mann Act. Kelly has pleaded not guilty and continues to deny the allegations, and his defense has painted accusers as disgruntled fans.

Last week, one accuser testified under a pseudonym that for four years she experienced mental and physical abuse while in a sexual relationship with Kelly, who cut her off from her family, beat her with a sneaker, and pressured her to get an abortion, the New York Times reports. That same week another accuser, Jerhonda Pace, recounted that she first had sex with Kelly when she was just 16 and told to tell others she was “19 and act like I was 21.” She recounted being spit on and strangled by Kelly, having to obtain his permission to use the bathroom, and said he would film their sex acts.

The third accuser, known as “Stephanie,” testified that she met Kelly when she was 17 in 1999, adding that she was transparent about her age. She too said that Kelly would tape their sex acts and described being subjected to fits of Kelly’s rage. “He humiliated me, he degraded me, he scared me,” the NYT reports she said in court. “I’ll never forget the way he treated me.”

Overall the prosecution focuses on six accusers in a case that attempts to encapsulate years of allegations of sexual abuse against Kelly and establish that he created an enterprise that recruited and exploited young women, hence the racketeering charge. The case will also touch on Kelly’s marriage to Aaliyah and the charge that he bribed an Illinois government employee to get the then 15-year-old singer a fake I.D. in order to marry, a long-overdue examination that’s happening almost exactly 20 years after the star’s death.

In addition to the charges in New York, Kelly also faces indictments of alleged sexual abuse in Cook County, Illinois, as well as federal charges for allegedly conspiring with employees to manipulate his 2008 child pornography trial. Kelly was previously indicted on 21 counts of child pornography in 2001, but was acquitted of all charges in 2008.

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