R. Kelly’s sex-trafficking trial continued into Day 10 on Wednesday with more graphic testimony from a witness who says he forced her into sex acts, told her he’s a “legend” and that he likes a woman “who reminds him of a puppy, his daughter or his mom.”
The witness, who testified as “Faith,” is one of the six complaining witnesses whose allegations underlie the sex trafficking, racketeering and other charges Kelly faces at the trial in federal court in Brooklyn. So far, the jury has heard testimony from or about five of those women.
On Tuesday, Faith told the jury that she wasn’t a fan of Kelly’s but he enticed her to join him on the road after she met him at a concert in Texas.
On Wednesday, under direct questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney Nadia Shihata, Faith described meetings with Kelly in Texas, Los Angeles and New York during which she was reluctant to engage in sex acts, he forced her anyway, and once showed her a gun as a way of intimidating her.
“He had a weapon, so I wasn’t going to step out of line,” Faith told the jury about a 2018 encounter in Los Angeles.
During that meeting, she said she told him she didn’t want to have sex. He put a pillow on the floor and demanded oral sex, she said. “He grabbed the back of my neck forward,” she said, forcing her to perform the sex act. He told her that he wanted her to greet him with excitement when he entered a room, and that she failed to comply.
They continued to communicate through phone calls, texting and FaceTime. In February 2018, they met at a New York City hotel. Why did she go? “Let me see how it’s going to go one more time,” Faith testified.
She said she was left alone in a hotel suite for a long time. Why didn’t she leave? It was part of Kelly’s rules, Faith said. “Don’t leave anywhere without his permission,” she told the jury.
When he arrived, she resisted when he tried to have sex with her, she said, so he began masturbating to videos on his iPad of himself having sex with other women. Faith said Kelly told her she needed to be more like the women in the videos.
Eventually, Faith said, she concluded “I don’t want to be a part of this.” When Kelly’s assistant summoned him for a meeting, she said he patted her on the shoulder as he left and told her she had a lot to learn.
He warned her not to defy him, telling her “I’m a (expletive) legend.”
She left the next day and flew home to Texas. She said she sent him an apology text. “I didn’t hate him,” Faith said. “I just hoped he didn’t have any hard feelings toward me.”
Later, when she discovered bumps in her mouth, she went to a doctor and was told she had herpes. She tried to contact Kelly; he didn’t respond, she said. “He totally cut off communication with me.” She contacted a lawyer and filed a police report with the Dallas police, later suing him for failing to disclose a sexually transmitted disease.
Eventually, she said, Kelly called and told her “you still have a friend in me,” a call recorded by her lawyer. But when she asked him about the herpes, she said he told her, “If he had something, we weren’t going to discuss it over the phone.”
Later, after she appeared in the “Surviving R. Kelly” Lifetime series, Faith said she was contacted by a woman who worked with Kelly, who told her the star planned to publish nude photos of the witness if she continued to speak publicly. Faith testified the photos were later posted to a Facebook page called “Surviving Lies.”
On cross-examination by one of Kelly’s lawyers, Deveraux Cannick, Faith acknowledged she visited Kelly at least five times on the road, and that each encounter featured some form of unwanted sexual contact, abuse or intimidation.
“After all that … you went to visit him again?” Cannick asked. “Correct,” she said. “Your choice, right?” “Yes,” she said. “You felt like he violated you … in each and every one of these trips?” “Correct,” she said.
Faith acknowledged she had appeared on at least five to seven talk shows and on social media programs but did not get paid for them. She said she received $1,000 for a picture of herself, her sister and Kelly that was used in “Surviving R. Kelly.”
Cannick read her a transcript of a podcast called Paper Route where she said, “I don’t like the word ‘victim,’ I don’t feel like a victim. … I made a choice to be with that man. … That’s why I walked away.”
“And you’re not a victim?” Cannick asked. “Correct,” she replied.
On re-direct, Shihata asked her if she testified there were “two sides to the defendant.” “Yes,” she said. “It wasn’t all bad, correct?” “Correct,” she said.
Kelly, 54, is facing multiple sex-trafficking and racketeering charges dating back decades and involving six complaining witnesses, including the late singer Aaliyah, called Jane Doe No. 1 by prosecutors.
The star has repeatedly denied accusations that he preyed on women during a 30-year career highlighted by his 1996 smash hit “I Believe I Can Fly.” His lawyers have portrayed his accusers as groupies who are lying about their relationships with him.