CHICAGO — An attorney for R. Kelly suggested that a woman who was 14 when the R&B artist allegedly sexually assaulted and urinated on her in a graphic videotape was benefitting greatly from finally coming forward to testify.
During Kelly’s second federal trial on Friday morning, his attorney Jennifer Bonjean attacked the idea that the woman, who is now 37 years old and testifying under the pseudonym Jane, was cooperating with prosecutors because, as she previously told the court, she "became exhausted with living with his lies." Instead, Bonjean accused Jane of trying to get money from Kelly before she decided to come forward and pointed out that the government has provided rental assistance, immunity from prosecution, and travel expenses to Florida as part of her agreement to participate in the proceedings. If Kelly is convicted, Jane would also be entitled to restitution, Bonjean noted.
“You wanted to work out a situation where he would pay you,” Bonjean said while asking Jane questions during cross-examination.
“That is not correct,” Jane responded.
Jane also said that while she is aware that she would be eligible to receive restitution from Kelly in the event the jury determines he is guilty, she hasn’t decided whether she wants to seek any compensation.
In this case, Kelly is facing 13 counts, including producing child sex abuse images and obstructing justice, in connection with a state trial in 2008 that resulted in his acquittal. He is accused of recording videos of himself sexually abusing Jane in the infamous tape at the center of the investigation in the 2000s as well as in three other videos. He is also facing charges of luring Jane and four other underage girls to have sex with him.
Prosecutors also allege that he schemed with associates to round up the illicit tapes, pay off witnesses, and persuade Jane and her parents to lie about the true nature of her relationship with Kelly.
Jane’s testimony is key to federal prosecutors' case and was highly anticipated after she did not testify in the 2008 trial and denied for years that she was the person in the tape or had a sexual relationship with Kelly. On Thursday, she confirmed that she lied to law enforcement and the Cook County grand jury when they charged him with producing the infamous tape in 2002. She also described how she was groomed for sexual abuse shortly after asking the R&B singer to be her godfather and being directed by him to lie about their relationship.
While cross-examining Jane on Friday, Bonjean presented her with a series of text messages between her and Kelly from late 2018 and early 2019 — around the time when the docuseries Surviving R. Kelly, which detailed the allegations of women who said Kelly had abused them, aired on TV.
“Your life kind of changed when that came out?” Bonjean asked.
“Yes,” Jane said.
In text messages shown to the jury, Jane told the R&B singer on Jan. 6, 2019, after the six-episode series had aired, that she was “super worried” about him.
“I [love] you don’t let the devil win,” she told him.
Later on that month and into early February, Jane continued texting him saying that she needed to talk. On Feb. 14, 2019, Jane told Kelly, “I need to speak with you ASAP.”
Shortly after, she texted him again, “You need to call me right away or I’m Making decisions on my own.”
On that day, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office was trying to contact Jane, she testified. (Kelly was charged and arrested days later on charges filed by that office separate from this case.) Jane said she reached out to Kelly because that’s what she “was used to” doing when faced with inquiries about her sexual relationship with the singer. On redirect examination by Assistant US Attorney Jeannice Williams Appenteng, Jane testified that at the time she was afraid about “this situation resurfacing and another tape being released.”
When Jane first met with the US attorney’s office in April 2019, she testified while answering questions from Bonjean that she lied and said that she was not aware of Kelly’s relationships with underage girls. She also refused to look at any video evidence during the interview and told prosecutors that she wasn’t comfortable answering questions about her sexual relationship with Kelly.
“Mr. Kelly didn’t tell you to tell that lie, you told that lie,” Bonjean said.
“Yes,” Jane testified.
“You had your own reasons not to be truthful,” Bonjean said.
“At that time, yes,” Jane responded.
In a second interview that month, Jane was still unwilling to speak with prosecutors about her sexual interactions with Kelly, she confirmed under questioning from Bonjean, who then asked her if the US attorney’s office told her she could be eligible for restitution in the event Kelly was convicted. It was unclear when she was made aware of the possibility of restitution, but Jane ultimately decided to cooperate with prosecutors at a third meeting in April 2019, she testified.
Bonjean also pressed Jane about whether she was getting any “deals” after ultimately deciding to cooperate with federal prosecutors, pointing to an Instagram post her brother made about her being a spokesperson for a group that had a partnership with Grey Goose vodka.
“That’s not a deal. It’s a mentoring program,” Jane said, describing the work with the brand as a collaboration.
Jane testified that she was not offered any opportunities as a result of coming forward but that the government did provide her with Section 8 housing, a government rental assistance program, and paid for her to travel to Florida in or around June 2019 shortly before Kelly was indicted in Chicago and New York.
“I was afraid for my safety for cooperating,” Jane said, adding that she wasn’t working as a result and needed help.
Again, she testified that she feared for her safety due to the added attention around the case and wanted to get out of the state.
After Jane finished testifying on Friday, jurors viewed several clips from three of the videos allegedly depicting Kelly sexually abusing her when she was 14 years old, including snippets of the infamous tape from the 2008 trial. Reporters and members of the public in the audience were not allowed to view the images while they were presented to jurors under rules agreed upon by the parties prior to the trial.