R. Kelly's attorney begins cross-examining the woman who said she was a juvenile in the infamous sexual tape, focusing on more recent interaction between the singer and 'Jane.'
R. Kelly's counsel began cross-examining the main witness in his federal trial in Chicago on Friday, a woman who now claims to be the young girl shown on an iconic sex tape that led to Kelly's conviction on child pornography charges two decades ago.
The woman, who went by the pseudonym "Jane" in court, testified for roughly four hours on direct examination Thursday that Kelly had a secret sexual connection with her when she was a young girl in the late 1990s.
Jennifer Bonjean, Kelly's main attorney, focused her initial cross-examination on Jane's maturity. She showed Jane a long string of text exchanges between Jane and Kelly from 2018 to 2019, demonstrating that the two had just recently communicated.
The texts were cordial, with Jane inviting Kelly to a birthday party and the two exchanging Happy New Year wishes. Jane gave him letters of support after Lifetime's devastating "Surviving R. Kelly" docuseries broadcast in January 2019.
"I love you," she texted, "don't let the devil win." "Yeah, I was on a tremendous breakdown, but now I'm on a major buildup," Kelly said.
"He wasn't attempting to get you to do anything; you were simply commiserating," Bonjean said, and Jane agreed.
In February 2019, the Cook County state's attorney's office contacted Jane, claiming that they had further film purportedly involving her and Kelly. "You need to contact me right soon or I'm making decisions on my own," Jane texted Kelly.
Bonjean mistook that for an extortion attempt, which Jane categorically rejected.
"I was going to make the decision to assist with the authorities because I no longer wanted to bear his falsehoods," Jane explained.
Jane, now 37, shared her tale publicly for the first time after declining to cooperate with police years ago. Her absence caused a vacuum in Kelly's 2008 trial in Cook County, which resulted in acquittal when jurors couldn't agree on whether the girl on the pornographic film was truly her.
Jane, dressed in a white jacket with her hair in long braids, told the jury a horrifying story of alleged grooming, sexual abuse, and cover-up that she said began when she was 14 and began when she first had sexual contact with Kelly.
They had sex "innumerable times" after that, sometimes with other underage females Jane recruited at Kelly's request, she added. According to Kelly, the meetings took place in his West George Street house, at his Near West Side recording studio, on tour buses, and in hotels in Chicago and abroad.
Kelly's attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, has told the jury that the prosecution' case is "based on the evidence of liars, extortionists, and persons involved in the business of trafficking pornography."
In addition, referring to the #MeToo period during which the federal charge was filed, Bonjean stated that the entire case was the consequence of a "mob-justice mentality" in which "hashtag movements" dictate prosecutors' judgments.
Bonjean often objected to the style of questions given by prosecutors during Jane's evidence on Thursday, alleging they were leading, lacked basis for where or when specific events happened, or misstated her past testimony.
Bonjean is anticipated to test Jane's recall of events and her motives for altering her narrative after so many years during her cross-examination on Friday.
On direct questioning Thursday, Jane admitted that she not only misled to a Cook County grand jury in 2002 by claiming it wasn't her on the recording, but that she has also been granted immunity by federal authorities for that lying.
She stayed calm for most of her testimony, speaking softly but matter-of-factly about how she came into Kelly's orbit and how their similar love of music and basketball created a connection despite their age difference.
However, when she was pressed to detail sexual encounters that Kelly taped, including the now-infamous tape at the core of Kelly's 2008 trial, Jane's voice became softer and began to crack.
One of the recordings, which will be shown to jurors later, shows Jane and Kelly having oral sex in the living room of his Lakeview house, she claimed. He was witnessed offering her Champagne and urging her to refer to her genitalia as 14 years old, according to her. Then he urinated on her, she continued, wiped tears from her eyes, in a voice almost too quiet to hear.
Jane said that in another video from around the same time, shot in a wood-paneled Jacuzzi room, Kelly seemed to hand her money before they had intercourse.
When a prosecutor inquired why he gave her money, Jane burst into tears and said, after a lengthy pause, "Because he wanted it to look as if I was a prostitute if anyone saw the tape or if it was published for whatever reason."
Jane stared down at the table in front of her as she said it. Kelly, who was seated across the courtroom at the defense table, shook his head.
Kelly, 55, is accused with 13 counts of child pornography production, conspiracy to generate child pornography, and obstructing justice. If convicted, some of the crimes have a required minimum of ten years in jail, while others carry sentences ranging from five to twenty years. Prosecutors are also seeking a $1.5 million personal money seizure from Kelly.
Kelly's former business manager, Derrel McDavid, and another accomplice, Milton "June" Brown, are also on trial for allegedly conspiring to purchase back damning sex videos acquired from Kelly's collection and conceal years of alleged sexual abuse of minor females.
Kelly faces decades in jail regardless of the decision. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison in June on federal racketeering charges presented in New York. In that case, he is appealing both the jury's verdict and the punishment.