R. Kelly Was Upset With His Assistant for Letting Woman ‘Escape’

  • A longtime assistant to R. Kelly testified that she got in trouble for letting his girlfriend “escape.”
  • Diana Copeland was responsible for arranging travel and booking appointments for Kelly’s girlfriends.
  • When one of them left his home in anger, Kelly thought she should have stopped her from going.
  • Copeland said Kelly’s girlfriends were “not free” to roam his houses when they lived there.

A longtime assistant to R. Kelly testified Friday that he once confronted her about letting one of his live-in girlfriends “escape” his home in Georgia.

Diana Copeland, who worked for Kelly on and off from 2004 to 2018, told the jury in the singer’s alleged sex crimes trial that one day she was present when one of his girlfriends “Anna” was angry after an apparent argument with him and left with bags. Copeland said she did “nothing” to stop her from leaving.

A few days later, Kelly took Copeland to a park in Chicago to talk to her about the incident, she said in court.

“Another coworker had called him and said I let Anna escape,” she said. 

Copeland said in her testimony that Kelly’s use of the word “escape” made her upset because at the time there were “words swirling in the media” about his treatment of women.

Kelly, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, is on trial in federal court in Brooklyn on charges of running a criminal enterprise where his employees recruited women and girls for the singer to have sex with and abuse. Kelly has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Prior to Copeland being called to the stand on Friday, a witness identified as “Anna” had testified about her time in a relationship with Kelly. Anna had testified that Kelly had taken her on shopping sprees, bought her gifts, and threw her parties while they dated, but that he also beat her when she broke one of his controlling rules.

Copeland testified that when Anna left, Kelly was “disappointed” with her for not stopping the woman. 

“He said ‘I should have just let Lee Lee handle it,'” Copeland recalled Kelly referring to another assistant. 

Several witnesses, including some of Kelly’s accusers, have testified that Copeland was the one they would have to contact if they needed to use a restroom or book travel to see the artist.

She confirmed those were part of her duties as his executive assistant. She said that while she worked for him women stayed in his various homes, offices, and studios, but were confined to the rooms they were assigned to. 

“They were not free to roam the house,” she said. 

It was also part of Copeland’s job to take the women to go shopping, to the nail salon, or get a massage. While they were out, she noticed the girlfriends would not interact with men other than Kelly — who they called “daddy” —  and go as far as turning away from a male salesperson if he asked them if they needed his assistant, she testified.

She would often speak to male clerks on their behalf.

r kelly trial

R. Kelly sits beside his lawyer Thomas Farinella during Kelly’s sex abuse trial at Brooklyn’s Federal District Court in a courtroom sketch in New York, U.S., August 30, 2021.

REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg


Kelly docked his workers’ pay if they broke a rule

Copeland was one of several former employees to Kelly who has testified that the singer would “fine” them by docking money from their paycheck if they broke one of his rules.

Copeland said it happened to her several times, including once when she was told to find Kelly a “rare puppy,” but it took her too long to do so. 

Another time Kelly fined Copeland when she made an appointment for his live-in girlfriends to go to a nail salon and it turned out that there was a man working at the business. 

Kelly didn’t want the women to visit businesses or ride in Ubers with men, she testified.

Copeland said that she found out from Kelly’s accountant that she had been fined and why.

Prosecution will continue to question Copeland on Monday. 

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