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R. Kelly Allegedly Made His Victims Write “Collateral” Letters As Blackmail. His Defense Tried To Use One As Evidence He’s Innocent.

R. Kelly’s attorneys used the letters to argue the woman was not a victim of abuse, but she said she was coerced into exactly what to write.

Last updated on August 25, 2021, at 2:45 p.m. ET

Posted on August 25, 2021, at 2:43 p.m. ET

Jane Rosenberg / Reuters

In a courtroom sketch, Jane Doe #5 is cross-examined by Deveraux Cannick as she testifies during R. Kelly's trial at Brooklyn's Federal District Court in New York on Aug. 24, 2021.

On Wednesday, a woman who has been testifying for three days about the alleged abuse and humiliation she endured from R. Kelly read aloud a letter from the stand at the direction of Kelly’s lawyers.

The letter said everything the defense has been trying to claim: that the woman’s parents wanted to extort Kelly, and that the then-17-year-old girl attempted to seduce the adult singer, though the letter claimed they did not have sex until she came of age. She hated her lying parents, the letter said, and she loved Kelly.

The woman, identified in court using the pseudonym Jane, did not deny writing the letter — but none of it was true, she testified on Wednesday. This letter, she said, was one of the many Kelly allegedly forced his victims to write, which he then kept as “collateral.”

Federal prosecutors have accused Kelly of collecting these letters, signed by his victims, to protect himself. They contain damaging — and allegedly false — confessions, including that alleged victims had stolen money or jewelry from Kelly and been molested by family members. It was one example, prosecutors have said, of how the singer’s alleged abuse of 22 people amounted to a criminal enterprise; he has been charged with racketeering and sex trafficking.

Earlier in her testimony, Jane shared disturbing and graphic details of how Kelly allegedly used physical, sexual, and emotional abuse to humiliate and control her for years. She said Kelly regularly beat her, forced her to have sex as punishment for breaking his “rules,” and in one incident, forced her to make a video in which she smeared her face with feces. He also made her get an abortion against her will because Kelly told her “he wanted [her] to keep [her] body tight,” she said.

The collateral letters were first introduced to court by Kelly’s attorney, Deveraux Cannick, who has attempted to discredit Jane’s testimony that she is the victim of years of abuse.

The letters said she and her parents had conspired to blackmail Kelly by having the teenager “lure” him into a sexual relationship. One letter claimed Jane’s mother had told her to dress in revealing clothes for her first meeting with the singer, but despite the then-17-year-old’s best efforts, Kelly “wasn’t even coming onto [her].”

“Even though I wanted to have sex with him… he was not showing the same interest,” the letter said.

Jane Rosenberg / Reuters

In a courtroom sketch, R. Kelly watches as Jane Doe #5 is cross-examined by Deveraux Cannick as she reads letters she wrote to her parents on Aug. 25, 2021.

The letters repeatedly and conspicuously set up a proposed legal timeline of when they first had sexual contact. Jane had initially lied about her age, she previously testified, telling him she was 18 when they first met. When she told the truth, Kelly slapped her, she said. According to Jane, she first had sexual contact with Kelly when she was 17, shortly after meeting him at one of his own concerts.

But the letter presented by Kelly’s defense team painted a different picture of the moment Jane told him she was actually 17. “He was not mad about it… because we hadn’t done anything sexually,” the letter said.

Jane repeatedly lambasted her family in these letters, saying she felt “like a ho and a prostitute” because they used her as “bait” to blackmail Kelly. The letters claimed her parents “teamed up with” the parents of another alleged Kelly victim and that they “found old girlfriends that were mad” at Kelly to make him appear guilty. Jane quietly chuckled when reading this line to the court.

These letters were not true, she repeatedly said — it was Kelly who had made her write them, directing every word on the page.

“These were the statements the defendant made me write,” she said, adding their purpose was to “exploit” her.

The letters, Jane added, were never sent to her parents. Instead, she said, Kelly held on to them as a form of blackmail.

“My family never saw those letters,” she said.

Prosecutors introduced more of the collateral letters, some of which bordered on outlandish, including one written by Jane in which she said she’d “spanked [her]self really hard” because she stole from him.

In another such letter, Jane wrote, allegedly at Kelly’s direction, that she was going to falsely accuse him of rape if he didn’t have sex with her.

“I desperately wanted you to want me how I craved you,” the letter said. “If you don’t bring back that dick, I’m going to tell everyone you’ve raped me… since I was a minor… You’re not trying to seduce me, and that makes me want you even more.”

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.