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For years, R. Kelly’s former goddaughter had tried to protect the R&B icon, but in court on Thursday the now-37-year-old woman finally testified that Kelly had sex with her “hundreds of times” when she was a minor.
The woman, referred to in court as “Jane,” testified that Kelly's sexual abuse of her began when she was just 14 years old and admitted to being the subject of a now infamous sex tape at the center of a 2008 child pornography trial against Kelly.
Without the support of Jane or her family at the time, jurors couldn’t agree whether it had been her in the video and acquitted the singer, according to The Chicago Tribune.
On Thursday, after gaining immunity from prosecutors, Jane testified she had lied years ago to a 2002 Cook County grand jury about the tape both because she was living in fear and because she had wanted to protect the singer.
“Because I was afraid to expose Robert. Because I was afraid of what might happen to my parents,” she said, according to CNN. “I also did not want that person to be me.”
Jane said she decided to come forward with the truth because she was “exhausted with living with his lies.”
For hours on the stand Thursday, Jane testified about years of graphic sexual abuse that began when she was 14 years old and the pressure she felt in the years that followed to protect Kelly.
Jane, a former member of a youth Christian hip-hop group, described how she had been “living my dream” as a young teen on tour across the world before being introduced to Kelly through her aunt, who is known professionally as Sparkle.
Sparkle, who had been romantically linked to Kelly at the time, brought the singer to one of Jane’s gospel concerts at church. The young teen connected with Kelly about music and her love of basketball and she started spending more and more time with her aunt and Kelly.
Though the girl was just 13, Sparkle — who is also expected to testify in the trial — seemingly encouraged their bond and suggested that Jane ask Kelly to be her godfather, a role he quickly jumped at the chance to perform.
However, just weeks later, Jane testified that their phone conversations turned sexual with Kelly asking about her breasts or what color panties she was wearing.
The acts soon turned physical and one video captured Jane and Kelly having oral sex in his living room. In it, he can be seen plying her with Champagne, giving her instructions on how to refer to her own genitals and urinating on her. In another video, he handed her money and then had sex with her in the wood-paneled jacuzzi room of his home.
When prosecutors asked why he handed her money, Jane began to cry on the stand and said, “Because if anybody saw the tape or it was released for some reason, he wanted it to appear as if I was a prostitute,” The Chicago Tribune reported.
Prosecutors have told the jurors that they would see clips from three videos showing Jane’s abuse during the trial.
According to Jane, she and Kelly had sex “hundreds of times” with her when she was between the ages of 15 and 18 years old, WGN reports.
She said she agreed to keep the relationship secret because she eventually felt she was in love with Kelly and wanted to protect him.
“I was afraid that something bad would happen to Robert. I wanted to protect him so I did everything I could to keep it a secret,” she said. “That was something I was going to take to my grave."
Kelly’s defense team was expected to cross-examine Jane on Friday.
The Grammy-winning singer is facing charges including producing and receiving child pornography, enticing minors to engage in criminal sexual activity and obstruction charges.
Two of his former employees, Derrel McDavid and Milton “June” Brown, have also been charged for their role in the alleged abuse. Brown, Kelly’s former assistant, has been charged with conspiracy to receive child pornography while McDavid, who once served as the singer’s manager and accountant, is facing charges of child pornography and obstruction.
Kelly, McDavid and Brown have all pleaded not guilty.
Kelly is already serving a 30-year federal prison sentence after being convicted earlier this year of sex trafficking and racketeering.
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