Over more than five weeks, nearly a dozen victims of R. Kelly took the stand in a New York courtroom to provide harrowing details of the abuse and mistreatment they suffered at the hands of the famous singer.
Many of the 11 women and men, some of whom cannot be publicly identified, described having sex with R. Kelly when they were underage. They described him as controlling, angry and violent – adding that he required them to call him “daddy”.
Other women say they were forced to write letters of blackmail, including false confessions that could later be used against them.
On 27 September Kelly was found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking charges. He will be sentenced on 4 May.
So what have the victims said about the man now facing life behind bars?
‘I was running from him and fighting back’
One witness – identified in Kelly’s indictment as Jane Doe No 5 – testified that he repeatedly abused her over the course of a five-year relationship, which began when she was a 17-year-old aspiring singer in 2015.
Now 23, the witness also testified that she contracted herpes at age 17 from the singer after having sex with him. She said he had not told her that he had a sexually transmitted disease, as he was legally required to do.
“This man purposely gave me something he knew he had,” she said. “He could have controlled the situation.” Kelly’s physician later testified that the singer had been prescribed herpes medication since 2007.
When she confronted him, he became “agitated and told me I could have gotten that from anyone. I told him I had only been intimate with him”. When it became impossible for her to have sex due to pain, he complained that her body was “broken”.
Another woman, identified by the name Faith, later testified that Kelly had infected her with herpes, and a third woman identified by the pseudonym Kate said that she was given a $200,000 settlement from Kelly after she caught the virus from him.
Additionally, Jane said that Kelly attempted to control every aspect of her daily life and would “chastise” her for any perceived disobedience. He would sometimes punish her by spanking her hard enough to leave bruises and make her “skin tear”.
“I would get chastised nearly every two or three days,” the woman said in court.
In one incident, Jane testified that Kelly assaulted her with a size 12 Air Force 1 shoe after discovering she had texted a friend about him. “He hit me all over,” she said. “I was running from him and fighting back.”
Jane also claimed that Kelly pressured her into having an unwanted abortion after he impregnated her. One of his assistants ultimately drove her to the clinic.
Kelly also forced Jane to record demeaning videos of herself as punishment, including one in which she had to smear faeces on her face, she said.
She added that he threatened to make her do it a second time because she “wasn’t into it enough”.
Another woman identified as Anna said Kelly made her record videos of “being sexual and seductive with bodily fluids”.
The first witness, Jerhonda Johnson Pace, told the jury that R. Kelly knew she was underage in 2009 when they had intercourse in Chicago, where the age of consent is 17.
Now 28, she testified on the first day of the trial that she had initially told Kelly she was 19, but had revealed her real age on the day they had sex for the first time.
“He wanted me to put my hair up in pigtails and dress like a Girl Scout,” she later told the court, adding that he took videos of their sexual encounters.
Ms Pace also testified that she was required to ask permission to use the toilet. “If I was on his good side,” he would grant permission in a matter of minutes, she said, but when she was “on his bad side”, she would be forced to wait for up to three days.
She said she was also required to acknowledge the singer whenever he entered a room, and was slapped and spat on when she did not address him quickly enough.
On cross-examination, defence lawyers had her admit that she had earned some $25,000 from a self-published book about her experiences with Kelly. She said that she had not been paid for any media appearances she has given.
‘What are you willing to do for music?’
Two men took the stand to testify to the abuse they suffered during their times in the singer’s entourage.
One man, testifying under the pseudonym Louis, said he first encountered Kelly in 2006, when he was a 17-year-old working the night shift at a McDonald’s in Chicago.
He told the court that Kelly slipped him his phone number, and invited him to his house, saying he could perform in his recording studio. Kelly at one point asked him what he was “willing to do for music”.
On one such occasion, the star asked Louis if he had ever “had any fantasies” involving men, then allegedly “crawled down on his knees and proceeded to give me oral sex” while he was underage.
Afterwards, “he told me to keep between him and me”, adding, “we family now, we brothers”.
Another man, using the name Alex, said he first met Kelly in high school before going on to have a relationship with him starting at age 20.
He said that Kelly forcibly kissed him on one occasion, telling him “just be open-minded”.
Later on, Kelly would procure women for Alex to have sex with while Kelly watched and filmed, sometimes joining in or masturbating.
He described the women he slept with as “zombieish”, saying he was forbidden from speaking to them outside of sex and from knowing their names.
Kelly, he said, referred to him by the nickname “nephew”, despite having no family relation.
‘I didn’t want to be victim-shamed’
One woman, who testified under the name Addie said that she was raped by the singer backstage in Miami after a concert.
Addie said she and her friend had been approached by two men “who looked like bouncers” and invited backstage after the show.
Once there, she said Kelly cleared the room and violently raped her.
“At this point, I was in complete shock,” she told the court. “I just went blank.”
Afterwards, her friend wanted to contact the police but Addie feared she would be blacklisted by the entertainment industry if she came forward.
“I didn’t even know if they would believe me,” she said. “I didn’t want to be victim-shamed.”
The attack came only two days after Kelly’s marriage to underage singer Aaliyah.