By MICHEL TARM
CHICAGO (AP) — R. Kelly’s legal team will have the opportunity to question the government’s star witness on Friday after she gave what jurors may consider damning testimony against Kelly at his federal trial in Chicago on charges including producing child pornography.
Jane, the pseudonym used for her during the trial, has been at the heart of Kelly’s legal troubles for more than two decades. She testified for more than four hours on Thursday, telling jurors it was her and Kelly in a videotape that was at the heart of his 2008 child pornography trial, in which he was acquitted.
Jane, now 37, pulled over, pulled on a necklace and dabbed at her eyes with a tissue as she said publicly for the first time that the girl in the video was her and the man was Kelly .
When a prosecutor asked Jane how old she was when the video was taken, she calmly said, “14.” Kelly, 55, would have been around 30 at the time.
In addition to charges of child pornography and incitement to minors, Kelly faces charges of conspiring to rig that 2008 trial by intimidating and paying the girl to ensure she wouldn’t testify at the time. -the.
Some jurors who presided over that 2008 trial, which was indicted by the state, said they had no choice but to acquit the R&B star because the daughter – then an adult – had no not testified. On the stand Thursday, Jane admitted she lied to a state grand jury in 2002 when she said it wasn’t her in the video.
“I was afraid something bad would happen to Robert,” she told jurors why she didn’t tell the truth at the time, referring to Kelly by her full first name. “I was protecting him.
She added that there was another reason why she lied about the identity of the person in the video. “I also didn’t want that person to be me,” she told jurors. “I was ashamed.”
Dressed in a white coat and removing a face mask before giving evidence, Jane remained on the witness stand for more than four hours for the government. Kelly’s attorney was to have his chance to cross-examine Jane beginning Friday morning.
A prosecutor asked Jane late Thursday why she had decided in recent years to start speaking honestly about what happened with Kelly, whom Jane said she continues to care for and with whom she sometimes lived into her twenties.
“I got exhausted from living with his lies,” she replied. She said federal prosecutors assured her she would not be charged with lying to authorities if she testified honestly at this trial.
Earlier, Jane also got emotional when asked to explain why Kelly can be seen handing her money in the video. She said it was a precaution against anyone accusing her of abusing a child if the video got into the hands of authorities.
“If anyone saw the tape… they wanted it to appear like I was a prostitute,” Jane said.
She described her parents confronting Kelly in the early 2000s over whether he was having sex with their daughter. Kelly fell to her knees and begged her parents to forgive her, Jane testified. She said she later implored her parents not to do anything to get Kelly in trouble, telling them she loved her.
As she spoke, Kelly mostly looked at the defense table and rarely looked at it. She too rarely looked in his direction.
Earlier, she testified that Kelly sexually assaulted her “hundreds” of times before she turned 18, starting when she was 15. She said they had oral sex in the video and she was 14 at the time.
Jane told jurors that in the late 1990s, when she was 13, she asked the Grammy-winning singer to be her godfather because she considered him an inspiration and mentor.
She said that in a few weeks Kelly would call her and say sexual things to her. She told jurors she was 15 when they first had sex.
When asked by a prosecutor how she would know what to do sexually, Jane replied, “He would tell me what to do.” When asked how many times they had sex before she was 18, she calmly replied, “Countless times. … Hundreds.
A federal judge in New York sentenced Kelly to 30 years in prison this year for his 2021 conviction for using his fame to sexually abuse fans.
Speaking softly and shyly when she first spoke on Thursday, Jane described her upbringing in a musical family in a Chicago suburb, including being home-schooled as part of a a touring musical group she joined when she was about 12 years old.
Jane first met Kelly in the late 1990s when she was in college. She had followed Kelly’s recording studio to Chicago with her aunt, a professional singer who worked with Kelly. Shortly after this meeting, Jane told her parents that Kelly was going to be her godfather.
Kelly, who rose from poverty on Chicago’s South Side to become a star singer, songwriter and producer, knew a 2008 conviction would effectively end his life as he knew it, and prosecutors say he conspired to settle this lawsuit.
Kelly has been followed for decades by complaints and allegations about his sexual behavior. The scrutiny intensified after the #MeToo era and the 2019 six-part documentary “Surviving R. Kelly.”
Kelly also faces four counts of incitement to sex with minors at the Chicago trial – one for each of the other four accusers. They too are expected to testify.
Follow AP Legal Affairs Editor Michael Tarm on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mtarm
Find full AP coverage of the R. Kelly trial at: https://apnews.com/hub/r-kelly