R. Kelly’s live-in girlfriend testified Tuesday that the R&B singer kept them from watching the Lifetime documentary series Surviving R. Kelly and kept a close eye on her and another of his girlfriends when Gayle King interviewed them in 2019. The witness, who testified as Jane Doe, said Kelly wanted the women to keep to a script and support his denials. Kelly is standing trial on sex trafficking charges in a Brooklyn federal court.
If Surviving R. Kelly came on television, the women had to “immediately change the channel,” the witness testified, reports the Associated Press. Then during the infamous interview with King for CBS This Morning, Kelly coughed as a single to remind the women to keep to a script. He expected them to support his denials. “He was letting us know he was in the room with us,” the witness said of Kelly, 54. The witness was in a five-year relationship with Kelly, which began with her hoping he would help her music career. She was asked what steps he took to help her. “None,” she replied.
During cross-examination, one of Kelly’s defense attorneys, Deveraux Cannick, asked the witness about gifts Kelly gave her, including an iPad, access to his assistants, and shopping sprees. Cannick asked the witness about the nicknames Kelly and the witness used for each other. The witness was also asked to read letters in which she wrote to Kelly, “I just want to make you proud and happy.” The witness stopped communicating with Kelly in January 2020.
Kelly has long denied allegations of preying on young women during his career. He was arrested in July 2019. This is his first trial on federal charges, and his attempts to be released on bail while awaiting trial were denied. The trial was delayed several times because of the coronavirus pandemic. The charges he faces include child pornography, kidnapping, obstruction of justice, sex trafficking, and racketeering for purposes of sexual exploitation of children, reports USA Today.
So far, jurors have heard testimony from two women who accused Kelly of sexual misconduct that began when they were still teenagers. They said he lured them into his small circle and would keep an eye on every move they made. The “I Believe I Can Fly” singer allegedly gave them degrading punishments if they spoke to anyone else about him. One witness claimed Kelly ordered her to have sex with a man he called “Nephew” while Kelly was in the room watching. Kelly told the woman “Nephew” was groomed “since he was young, like me,” the woman testified. Prosecutors also have at least two “John Does” they plan to question.
Kelly’s infamous interview with King aired in March 2019 as a special that included separate interviews with two women who lived with Kelly. During his interview with King, Kelly got up and cried while insisting he was innocent. “Thirty years of my career! And y’all trying to kill me? You killing me, man! This is not about music!” Kelly yelled at King. “I’m trying to have a relationship with my kids! And I can’t do it! Y’all just don’t want to believe the truth! You don’t want to believe it!”