R. Kelly trial witness claims singer liked that she was 16, she kept his shirt

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R. Kelly trial witness claims singer liked that she was 16, she kept his shirt

The first witness in the trial of R. Kelly took the witness stand Wednesday and told the court that the singing star once said “that’s good” when she told him she was a 16-year-old virgin — and that she kept a shirt that he had he used to clean himself after sex.

Jerhonda Pace, named in court as “Jane Doe No. 4,” testified that even though she told Kelly her age before they had sex, the pop star allegedly told her to keep telling people she was 19, and to act like she was 21.

Pace told the federal court she was an avid fan of the “Ignition” singer, attending hearings at his 2008 state child pornography trial as a supporter, and in a MySpace fan club.

She exchanged phone numbers with Kelly, and was invited to a party at his Illinois mansion in 2009, where she initially lied about her age and said she was 19, Pace testified.

Days later, Kelly, who was 42 at the time, invited her to come back alone, and told her to bring a bathing suit, she told the court.

The defendant told her to disrobe in his pool room and then “he grabbed me, picked me up, took me into his game room,” she testified. 

Kelly, now 54, then performed oral sex on the witness, but Pace said she “felt it wasn’t right,” and told him she was only 16 and presented an ID, according to the accuser’s testimony.

A courtroom sketch of Jerhonda Pace being shown the shirt she claims R. Kelly used to clean himself after they had sex.
A courtroom sketch of Jerhonda Pace being shown the shirt she claims R. Kelly used to clean himself after they had sex.
REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

After Kelly brushed off the 26 year age difference, Pace said she then performed oral sex on him as he told her he would “train” her sexually, the woman said.

“He bent me over the back of his sofa and he took my virginity,” she said, adding Kelly told her “that’s good” when she said she had never had sex before.

After the alleged illicit encounter, Pace said she drank with the singer and later “felt unwell,” before lying down in a room with mirrors all over the walls and above a bed, she said. 

At 6 a.m., she texted Kelly that she wanted to leave, and an employee of the singer took her to a train station and gave her $50, Pace testified.

The accuser visited Kelly’s mansion several times over the next 6 months, and was forced to follow “the rules,” which included calling him “daddy,” according to her testimony.

During Pace’s last visit in January 2010, the accuser said Kelly became enraged at her because she was texting on her phone, and spit and slapped her in her face, then choked her until she passed out, she testified.

When she came to, he made her to perform oral sex on him, and he ejaculated in her face, she told the court.

Paces said that she kept Kelly's shirt from 2010 and didn't wash it.
Paces said that she kept Kelly’s shirt from 2010 and didn’t wash it.
REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

She wiped his semen off on her blue Aeropostale t-shirt, which she kept and later turned over to prosecutors, she testified. The shirt, which was never cleaned after the encounter, was entered into evidence Wednesday. It was not clear if prosecutors were able to get DNA evidence off the shirt.

Defense attorney Nicole Blank Becker specifically focused on Pace in her opening statements, claiming the then teenager was an admitted liar.

To call her a “groupie,” Blank Becker told the jury, “would be an understatement when it comes to Jane Doe No. 4.” 

“His music was everything to her. She was completely enveloped with her passion with R Kelly the singer.”

The defense lawyer said the accuser was one of many “fans” that “came to Mr. Kelly,” and would tell the court “a mess of lies.”

“They knew exactly what they were getting into. It was no secret Mr. Kelly had multiple girlfriends. He was quite transparent.”

R. Kelly's defense lawyers Nicole Becker and Thomas Farinella arriving at the trial in Brooklyn on August 18, 2021.
R. Kelly’s defense lawyers Nicole Becker and Thomas Farinella arriving at the trial in Brooklyn on August 18, 2021.
Gregory P. Mango

Brooklyn Assistant US Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez countered the defense’s narrative in her opening statement.

“This case is not about a celebrity who likes to party a lot,” Cruz Melendez told the seven-man, five-woman jury.

“This case is about a predator who used his fame, popularity, and network to target, groom and exploit girls, boys and young women for his own sexual gratification.”

Kelly, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, faces nine counts of racketeering and violations of the Mann Act, which makes it a crime to transport “any woman or girl” across state lines for any “immoral purpose.”

He faces 10 years to life in prison if convicted.

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