CHICAGO, IL — R. Kelly’s alleged child sexual assault victim, known by the alias Jane and central to his federal child pornography trial in Chicago, has apologized to her multiple times in more than one video clip presented in evidence by prosecutors alleged perpetrators on Friday. The graphic videotapes were shown to the jury Friday at the Dirksen US Courthouse, where the tape — containing clips from three different videos — was not seen by the public or the media. Instead, audio was heard in the courthouse.
Kelly faces multiple charges of coercing five minors into sexual activity and multiple charges related to the manufacture of child pornography. He and co-defendants Derrel McDavid and Milton Brown also face charges of receiving child pornography in an alleged effort to recover missing tapes allegedly showing Kelly engaging in sexual activity with a minor. Additionally, Kelly and McDavid are facing charges of obstruction of justice, which include allegations that they paid people who knew of Kelly’s alleged abuse and attempted to obstruct the 2008 child pornography investigation into Kelly. All three men have pleaded not guilty.
On Thursday, Jane, who was Kelly’s goddaughter, identified herself as the person on the tapes shown Friday and said she was 14 when they were filmed. On Friday, Jane’s youthful-sounding voice could be heard on the tapes, making reference to her “14-year-old” body, including her breasts and other genitals, in multiple places while about 17 clips from three separate videotapes were presented in court. Kelly was heard in some clips confirming her age.
In one clip, Kelly tells Jane to turn around and “get on your knees.” “Dad, do you still love me?” she can be heard asking. In another clip, she’s told “don’t move” and “I’m going to smack your ass really hard.” Elsewhere, she is heard saying “I’m sorry” to her alleged sexual abuser multiple times while the tapes were playing in the courtroom.
A handful of the clips played Friday were the focus of Kelly’s 2008 child pornography trial, in which the singer was acquitted (Jane did not testify at the 2008 trial, which was a major factor in his acquittal, a jury would later determine in that trial say.) As the clips played, Kelly would often consult with his attorney and gaze at the table he was sitting at.
It was a chaotic run-up Friday before the tapes played, with Kelly supporters queuing hours early to appear in court as the trial unfolded, and prosecutors repeated their request to have U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber removed from the courtroom to be cleared by the public and the media on the grounds that the tapes are allegedly child pornography. Leinenweber did not agree and instead covered the video screens containing the videotapes from the public and media in the gallery, as the jury and legal teams were allowed to watch.
Earlier in the day, cross-examination of Jane, who testified Thursday, began with Kelly’s attorney Jennifer Bonjean, who illustrated through a series of texts allegedly sent to Kelly by Jane that the two had allegedly kept in touch up until April 2019. Bonjean also pointed out that her client didn’t always respond to Jane’s messages. In February 2019, shortly after the documentary Surviving R. Kelly aired, Jane Kelly reportedly texted: “You must call me immediately or I will make my own decisions.” Bonjean asked if this was a means for Jane, a payment to get to be silent, which Jane denied. “The decision I wanted to make was to cooperate with the authorities because I didn’t want to carry his lies any longer,” she said.
Bonjean also brought up redress, which Jane appears to be entitled to should Kelly be convicted, but Jane said she hasn’t decided yet whether to pursue that. Bonjean later suggested that Jane’s attorney had negotiated an immunity deal that covers her for “everything.” Nonetheless, Jane explained it calmly: “I’m telling my truth.”
Another set of texts Bonjean mentioned were those exchanged between Jane and then Assistant US Attorney Angel Krull, suggesting they had an overly friendly relationship. When forwarded, prosecutors struggled to establish that the exchange of texts concerned pre-trial planning.
Bonjean also questioned Jane about the original tape, which reporter Jim DeRogatis received from the Chicago Sun-Times at the time, which ultimately led to the 2008 trial. Bonjean asked if Jane’s aunt, Stephanie “Sparkle” Edwards, had provided the tape. “As far as I know, yes,” said Jane. Jane later agreed with Bonjean’s claim that Edwards initially seemed to encourage Kelly and Jane’s relationship when she suggested Jane ask Kelly to be her godfather when she was 12 or 13. “She knew what she was encouraging me to do,” said Jane.
However, Edwards has claimed that she was trying to protect her niece, as she claimed in DeRogatis’ book Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly.
On Thursday, Jane testified that she was the girl who was the girl who was sexually abused in the video that, among other clips, was the focus of Kelly’s 2008 child pornography trial (he was acquitted of all charges). On Wednesday, after opening statements, retired Chicago detective Daniel Everett testified on the allegation, saying he recognized Jane on the infamous tape — which he received from DeRogatis in February 2002 — from an initial investigation into the abuse allegations against Kelly two years earlier . In 2000, Jane had denied having been molested by Kelly, with her parents supporting that allegation. Prosecutors have claimed Kelly and his associates paid Jane and her family to cover up the videotapes.
The four videos central to the new trial – some of which were played to the jury on Friday – were filmed when Jane was 14, according to witnesses. She said the sexual acts took place at Kelly’s then home, recording studios, on tour buses and in hotels.
Also on Friday, one of Brown’s attorneys cross-examined Jane, apparently trying to determine that her client was unaware of Kelly’s alleged cover-up of his relationships and was only doing what he was told as an employee.
Testimonies Friday also included statements from Bettye Allwang, director of exploited children at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who testified that the video footage involved in the case was part of a distribution report filed with the agency, and John of Customs and Border Protection Cichy, who reviewed travel accounts involving Jane, her parents, and Brown.