R Kelly barred girlfriends from watching series on abuse allegations, court hears

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R Kelly barred his live-in girlfriends from watching a series that portrayed him as a sexual predator and kept watch over them during an interview with Gayle King, one of the women testified Tuesday at the R&B singer’s sex-trafficking trial.

The ugly power of R Kelly's photo with Gayle King Read more

If Surviving R Kelly came on TV, “we were to immediately change the channel”, said the witness, testifying as a “Jane Doe” in federal court in Brooklyn.

Kelly was there in the shadows when she and another live-in girlfriend spoke to King for a CBS This Morning segment in 2019, the witness said. She described how he would cough as a signal to keep them on script, backing up his denials, she said.

“He was letting us know he was in the room with us,” she said.

Kelly, 54, has repeatedly denied accusations that he preyed on several alleged victims during a 30-year career. His defense lawyers in cross-examination have attempted to paint the women who have taken the witness stand so far as super-fans and “groupies” who bragged to friends and family about being in a relationship with Kelly and were showered with lavish gifts and services.

The trial is unfolding under coronavirus precautions restricting the press and the public to overflow courtrooms with video feeds. That has made it difficult to gauge the reactions of Kelly, who has been jailed since his indictment in 2019.

The interview with King, which aired a couple weeks after his initial arrest on sex abuse charges, became immediately infamous for Kelly’s demeanor. The singer ranted, cried and shouted at King, who remained stoic even as he leapt up in anger.

“Robert, we have to have a conversation,” she said. “I don’t want you just ranting at the camera.”

02:28 R Kelly denies sexual abuse in first interview since criminal charges – video

That interview was the first time Kelly directly addressed the allegations made in the Lifetime documentary.

Jurors have so far heard from two women who claimed Kelly began sexually degrading them when they were still teenagers. 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.

In her second day on the witness stand, the witness described an episode where Kelly ordered her to have sex with a man nicknamed “Nephew” as a punishment. She said Kelly was in the room watching.

Speaking of “Nephew”, Kelly told her he “had been grooming him since he was young, like me”, she said.

Prosecutors have alleged that Kelly exploited at least two “John Does” along with several women expected to testify at his trial.

The witness began what turned out to be a five-year relationship with Kelly’s assurances he would promote her music career. Asked what steps he took to help during that time, she had a one-word answer: “None.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Deveraux Cannick, one of Kelly’s four lawyers, asked the witness to confirm whether Kelly had provided her with shopping sprees, spa and nail salon visits, rides on Uber and Lyft, an iPad and access to his assistants.

Cannick asked the witness if she referred to Kelly by any nicknames besides “Daddy”, and she said she would refer to him as “Papa Bear” or just “Bear” on occasion, and Kelly would call her “Mama Bear”.

He asked the witness to read out-loud letters she wrote to Kelly in late 2019, their last communication before they stopped contacting each other in January 2020. In the letters, the witness reaffirmed her love for Kelly, saying “I love you so much” and “I just want to make you proud and happy”.

  • Information and support for anyone affected by rape or sexual abuse issues is available from the following organisations. In the US, Rainn offers support on 800-656-4673. In the UK, Rape Crisis offers support on 0808 802 9999. In Australia, support is available at 1800Respect (1800 737 732). Other international helplines can be found at ibiblio.org/rcip/internl.html

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