“Rob’s rules. Witnesses testify to how R. Kelly controlled those in his orbit
Kelly’s orbit was a strange and uncomfortable place where the singer controlled young girlfriends and those around him with strict orders that dictated everything they did, testified Antony Navarro, 36, who worked as an assistant general for the singer.
“It was almost like the ‘Twilight Zone’,” Navarro told the jury. “You walked in the door and it was like a different world.”
Brooklyn prosecutors allege Kelly knowingly infected women with herpes, in violation of public health laws that require people with infectious venereal disease to notify their partners of their diagnosis.
“It was part of the rules – Rob’s rules”
The first prosecution witness, Jerhonda Johnson Pace, 28, said Kelly sexually assaulted her in 2009 when she was 16. After a few months of unprotected sex with him, she said, she developed genital herpes.
Pace testified that Kelly did not tell him he had herpes. She said Kelly had her checked out at her home by a doctor, who told her to take medication.
The first time Pace set foot in Kelly’s suburban home was at her invitation a year after her trial in Chicago on child pornography charges in 2008, she said. He was acquitted in June 2008. A big fan of Kelly, Pace told jurors that she was a spectator at the trial.
She said she first told Kelly she was 19, but eventually revealed she was 16 and a virgin. Pace said Kelly told him she should “keep telling everyone she was 19 and act 21”.
Pace said his sexual relationship with Kelly continued for six months and sometimes she was at his house and not allowed to leave his room.
“I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone I was spending time with him,” said Pace, who appeared on the Lifetime documentary “Surviving R. Kelly”.
Pace also told jurors that Kelly took her cell phone. “He didn’t want me to be in contact with anyone other than him,” Pace said.
“We couldn’t get out of the rooms. It was part of the rules – Rob’s rules,” Pace said, using the singer’s first name and referring to his girlfriends.
Defense says Kelly’s relationship was consensual
She wasn’t the only witness to bring up the rules that dictated the behavior of people around Kelly.
Pace testified that the relationship ended in January 2010 after Kelly got angry for not recognizing him as he walked into a room.
Pace said Kelly slapped and choked her “until I passed out”. She also testified that he spat in her face and after she gave him a blowjob and he cum in her face, she wiped his face with her T-shirt, which she put back on. to his lawyer at the time. Prosecutors said DNA matching Kelly’s was found in semen on a t-shirt an accuser wore when she was 16.
Pace said she brought a civil action against Kelly which was ultimately settled out of court for $ 1.5 million.
CNN has contacted Kelly’s attorneys to comment on the DNA found on the t-shirt. Nicole Blank Becker, an attorney for Kelly, called Pace a “self-proclaimed liar” in her opening speech.
The defense told jurors that many of the charges against him were “exaggerated” and that Kelly’s relationship was consensual.
Guests “had to get permission to do most of the things they wanted”
Navarro’s testimony also provided insight into life around the R&B superstar.
He was General Assistant for Kelly’s recording studio, “The Chocolate Factory”, based in his former home in Olympia Fields. Navarro testified that he often took walks with the singer’s girlfriends who came to the house, and sometimes between towns on his 2008 tour.
“I wasn’t supposed to talk to them,” Navarro said of the women.
His experiences working with artists like Taylor Swift, Jay Z and Kanye West were “normal” compared to his two and a half years with Kelly – which Navarro described to jurors as “a strange time.”
Navarro said he stopped working for Kelly in 2009. He said he sued Kelly for not paying her overtime. He remembered that Kelly had once reduced his pay because he had broken a “trivial” rule Kelly had, but couldn’t remember which one.
There were a lot of rules. For example, Kelly’s girlfriends and guests “had to get permission to do most of the things they wanted,” Navarro said. Guests were not allowed to walk around Kelly’s mansion.
“The general rule was that if they’re not where they’re supposed to be, you had to call Rob (or a manager),” Navarro said.
Reluctant witness irritates questions
On Friday, a former Kelly tour manager testified how far the singer’s relatives would go to protect him.
Smith was a reluctant witness, sometimes telling US District Judge Ann Donnelly that he “didn’t want to be here, period.”
Prosecutors read a 2019 judge’s ruling who ordered Smith to testify before a grand jury in the case against Kelly. They reiterated that he would not be prosecuted for anything he testified about.
Smith eventually testified. But he protested on several occasions, with his lawyer by his side, often interrupting his testimony to consult her or refreshing his memory by reading part of her testimony in front of the grand jury.
Aaliyah believed she was pregnant and Kelly feared going to jail because Aaliyah was only 15, according to Smith.
“I made her (the worker) an offer and she took the money,” Smith said. “I gave him $ 500.”
Smith and other members of Kelly’s inner circle accompanied the singer and Aaliyah to a municipal office where the couple applied for a marriage license.
Carolyn Harris, a supervisor at the Cook County Clerk’s Office in Illinois, spoke up and was shown the marriage license application signed by Kelly and Aaliyah. The document showed that Aaliyah’s age was 18 at the time.
CNN has contacted Aaliyah’s family for comment.
Smith said he and other Kelly associates had worked quickly to help Kelly, then 27, marry Aaliyah, even though she was only 15 – “to protect herself, to protect Aaliyah”.
Aaliyah, whose full name was Aaliyah Dana Haughton, died on August 25, 2001, at the age of 22, in a plane crash that also claimed the lives of eight other people as they returned from filming his music video in the Caribbean.
At the stand, Smith grew increasingly irritated at having to answer questions about the singers’ marriage.