R. Kelly’s former tour manager testified in court about bribing a government worker with $500 to get a fake ID to marry Aaliyah when she was 15 because he thought he got her pregnant.
Demetrius Smith, 65, told jurors in a Brooklyn courtroom that he arranged a bribe to get Aaliyah a fake ID so she could marry Kelly – then 27 – in August 1994 while flying back to Chicago.
Smith also said Kelly’s accountant began making arrangements for the marriage, and told Kelly ‘to protect himself, protect Aaliyah.’
Asked by a prosecutor what Kelly needed protection from, Smith said, ‘I guess jail.’
The marriage was ultimately annulled after six months. Aaliyah – a talented breakout singer – died in a tragic 2001 plane crash.
R. Kelly pictured here with Aaliyah from the ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ Lifetime documentary
Demetrius Smith points out Kelly after asking him to take off his mask during Kelly’s sex abuse trial at Brooklyn’s Federal District Court on August 20
Smith’s testimony was part of the third day in the R&B singer’s sex abuse trial where the court also heard from one of R. Kelly’s former doctor.
The physician – Dr. Kris G. McGrath – told jurors that he used to prescribe Kelly herpes medication so frequently that he memorized his number and was paid in trips around the country for parties and concerts in lieu of cash.
McGrath, now a professor at Northwestern University and Kelly’s former primary care physician, testified Thursday that he began prescribing the singer medication to treat herpes symptoms at least as far back as 2007.
That’s nearly two years before Kelly met one of his accusers – Jerhonda Pace, now 54.
She said the last time she saw Kelly was in January 2010, when he allegedly spat in her face, slapped her and choked her until she passed out after she failed to submit to his demands.
Pace said she began having sex with him when she was 16 years old and developed sores on her vagina while having sex with Kelly.
The singer called his doctor to his home, and he examined the minor while Kelly was in the room, confirming that the sores were herpes, Pace testified.
Dr. Kris G. McGrath, now a professor at Northwestern University and Kelly’s former primary care physician, testified Thursday that he began prescribing the singer medication to treat herpes symptoms at least as far back as 2007. He’s seen here in a courtroom sketch
The doctor told jurors that he first became aware of the possibility Kelly might have herpes much earlier, after a June 5, 2000 visit.
Pace, who is heavily pregnant and only a few days from her due date, told jurors Kelly would often film their sexual encounters after they started having sex in 2009, when she was just 16 and he was 42.
The doctor told jurors that he first became aware of the possibility Kelly might have herpes much earlier, after a June 5, 2000 visit.
‘He called to request a prescription for what he called “the blue pill,” McGrath said. ‘The phone calls seemed to be frequent for the blue pills.’
Kelly called so often for medication that McGrath eventually memorized the singer’s phone number. The pharmacy where he worked was near a McDonald’s where Kelly allegedly met one of his accusers.
McGrath eventually told Kelly to take the pills daily.
Prosecutors’ questioning on Kelly’s apparent herpes was meant establish that Kelly was well-aware of his diagnosis, as evidence in their allegations that he gave it to partners without telling them.
Jerhonda Pace, now 28, took the stand in Brooklyn’s Federal District Court for a second day Thursday to testify about the six months of alleged abuse she suffered at the hands of Kelly, now 54, as a teenager
Kelly’s attorneys argued herpes is not life-threatening, so Kelly shouldn’t be charged with passing it to a minor.
His defense team specifically argued the herpes exposure charge should be dropped because herpes is a virus and not ‘an acute, bacterial venereal disease such as syphilis or gonorrhea.’
Defense lawyers took it a step further and argued that the racketeering charges should be dismissed altogether because they said they fell outside the five-year statute of limitations.
On cross-examination, defense attorney Nicole Blank Becker tried to challenge McGrath on the nature of herpes, Vulture reported.
‘You can say 100 percent he has herpes?’ she asked.
‘I feel that 100 percent he has herpes,’ McGrath answered.
‘Are you saying, as in, “I feel like it’s freezing in here?” ‘
‘Is that a question?’ McGrath responded, later saying: ‘I believe that 100 percent, [based on] his exam, the treatment that he had and the response to therapy.’
‘Well, can’t you use the herpes med to treat other things?’ Becker asked.
‘Herpes. Herpes. Herpes,’ McGrath responded.
McGrath said he and his wife were flown out to New York, Missouri, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Nashville. Sometimes Kelly would pay for the travel and other times McGrath would book it himself
Kelly called so often for medication that McGrath eventually memorized the singer’s phone number
McGrath testified that while Kelly had health insurance, he never paid him for his medical services during the decades he treated him.
The singer would, however, invite him and his wife to parties, dinners and pay for his flights to concerts.
McGrath said he and his wife were flown out to New York, Missouri, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Nashville. Sometimes Kelly would pay for the travel and other times McGrath would book it himself.
They also attended cigar bars together, and McGrath traveled to the singer’s studios to listen to Kelly perform music.
McGrath said his wife, Jean, also had a relationship with Kelly, which he described as ‘caring.’
Testimony in the case continued Friday morning, as former Kelly manager Anthony Navarro spoke.
He said working for Kelly was weirder than working for Kanye West.
Former R. Kelly manager Anthony Navarro recalled being instructed not to talk with girls who came to Kelly’s home and having to tell people when girls were no longer in rooms they had been escorted to
THE CHARGES R. KELLY IS ON TRIAL FOR IN NEW YORK:
R. Kelly is standing trial in Brooklyn federal court accused of being the ringleader of a sex ring involving women and underage girls and boys.
The charges were first brought in a five-count superseding indictment in Brooklyn federal court in July 2019.
In March 2020, he was slapped with additional charges upgrading the case to a nine-count indictment.
The charges relate to allegations involving six alleged victims – five women named as Jane Does in the indictment and the singer Aaliyah. These charges are:
ONE COUNT OF RACKETEERING
The racketeering charge includes 14 underlying acts including: one act of bribery, three acts of sexual exploitation of a child, one act of kidnapping, three acts of forced labor and six acts of violating the Mann Act.
Racketeering charges are used where there is an ‘enterprise’, mob or mafia running organized crime operations.
In this case, Kelly is accused of running a racketeering ‘enterprise’ for two decades made up of his ‘inner circle’ of managers, bodyguards and other employees who would help him recruit women, girls and boys for him to sexually exploit and traffic them around the US.
To convict Kelly on the racketeering charge, he must be found guilty of at least two of the 14 acts.
EIGHT COUNTS OF VIOLATING THE MANN ACT
The Mann Act is a federal law that makes it illegal to traffic people across state lines for prostitution or illegal sexual activity.
Four of these charges relate to an incident involving Jane Doe #5 in 2015 while the other four involve Jane Doe #6 in separate incidents in May 2017 and February 2018.
Three of these charges involve Kelly allegedly exposing the two women to herpes without informing them.
Navarro, 36, who said he worked for Kelly for just over two years ending in 2009, said that his job included picking up and driving girls to be with the singer, as well as other tasks associated with Kelly’s recording career.
Navarro still works in music, and went on to work with other high-profile artists such as Jay-Z and Taylor Swift.
He recalled being instructed not to talk to the girls who came to Kelly’s home and telling people when girls were no longer in rooms that they had been escorted to.
‘The things you had to do were just a bit uncomfortable,’ he said. ‘The music and production stuff was really good. All the other stuff was kind of strange, it was almost like The Twilight Zone.’
Navarro said not talking to girls was also one of those rules, and that girls at Kelly’s home ‘had to get permission to do most things.’
Kelly is accused of having sex with and abusing women and girls during a two-decade racketeering scheme.
Prosecutors said Kelly is the ringleader of a criminal enterprise for almost three decades where he and his entourage recruited women as well as underage boys and girls for his sexual pleasure, abused and controlled his victims, and used sex tapes to blackmail them.
Some of the victims were also allegedly trafficked across state lines for sex with the singer while he allegedly gave two victims herpes by having unprotected sex with them and not disclosing he had the virus.
He is charged with nine counts including racketeering, based on sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, bribery and forced labor, and sex trafficking involving six victims between 1994 and 2018.
At least four of the alleged victims were underage and all were aged between 15 and 22 at the time of the alleged crimes.
One of the six women is late singer Aaliyah who Kelly married when she was just 15 and he was 27. Kelly is accused of bribing an Illinois official in 1994 to obtain fake ID for Aaliyah so they could wed in an effort to try to silence the teen when she reportedly fell pregnant with his child.
Kelly strongly denies all the accusations and has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
He faces up to life in prison if convicted and is also facing separate state and federal charges in Illinois and Minnesota.
Defense lawyers have argued that Kelly’s accusers were embellishing their accounts or lying in order to profit or because they were unhappy their relationships didn’t work out.
Kelly has been dogged for nearly two decades by accusations of sex-related misconduct, many discussed in the 2019 Lifetime documentary ‘Surviving R. Kelly.’
Pace, seen here at the premiere of the Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly, said she always had to seek permission to use the bathroom and when she was ‘on his good side’, he would usually grant her request in around five minutes
The alleged victim had testified Wednesday that Kelly lured her to his Illinois mansion and was happy to learn she was a virgin because he wanted to ‘train’ her to please him sexually
Pace’s testimony came Wednesday, when she said Kelly lured her to his Illinois mansion and was happy to learn she was a virgin because he wanted to ‘train’ her to please him sexually.
She told the court how he soon started controlling her with his so-called ‘Rob’s rules’, denying her from eating or using the bathroom without his permission, making her call him ‘daddy’ and taking away her phone.
Pace provided further details of this alleged abuse Thursday, telling the court Kelly would not allow her to go to the bathroom for hours and even days.
She said she always had to seek permission to use the bathroom and when she was ‘on his good side’, he would usually grant her request in around five minutes.
If she was ‘on his bad side’, it would often be several hours or even days, with Pace saying the longest time she was forbidden was three days.
Pace, named in court as ‘Jane Doe No. 4’, was the first witness to take the stand Wednesday on the first day of Kelly’s long-awaited trial.
She is one of six women mentioned in the nine-count federal racketeering indictment which could see the biggest star in R&B spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Before Pace took the stand Wednesday, the defense and prosecution gave their opening statements kicking off the trial that is expected to last around a month.
Kelly has been dogged for nearly two decades by accusations of sex-related misconduct
Prosecutors described the 54-year-old as a ‘predator’ who used ‘every trick in the predator handbook’ to groom his victims, blackmailed them with sex tapes and violently beat them if they failed to comply with his demands.
‘This case is not about a celebrity who likes to party a lot,’ Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez told the jury. ‘This case is about a predator.’
However, Kelly’s attorney instead claimed that Kelly was the victim of groupies who wanted the ‘notoriety of being with a superstar’ and had enjoyed ‘beautiful’, consensual relationships with him but were now turning against him.
The defense sought to discredit the accusers, telling jurors they will have to wade through ‘a mess of lies’.
The anonymous jury – of seven men and five women – is expected to hear testimony from multiple accusers during the trial including four of the five surviving women in the indictment – identified as Stephanie, Sonja, Jerhonda, Zel and Faith.
Other female victims are also expected to testify and at least one male victim who claims he was sexually abused by Kelly after meeting him in McDonalds when he was just 17.
Kelly’s former associates are also expected to take the witness stand after turning government cooperators to testify how his entourage of managers, bodyguards and other employees helped him recruit women and girls – and sometimes boys – for sexual exploitation.
The identities of these cooperating witnesses has not been revealed but it will be the first time they have spoken publicly about the allegations against the singer.
Some of Kelly’s former associates such as Richard Arline were arrested on suspicion of threatening and harassing the star’s accusers last summer.
Arline, who allegedly offered one of his alleged victims $500,000 to buy their silence, pleaded guilty in February.
Kelly’s attorney claimed that Kelly was the victim of groupies who wanted the ‘notoriety of being with a superstar’ and had enjoyed ‘beautiful’, consensual relationships with him but were now turning against him
Kelly was arrested on the New York federal charges in 2019 and has been held behind bars for almost two years in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn – the same jail housing Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell.
The R&B star’s arrest and trial was years in the making after he has faced accusations of sex abuse for decades, ever since his relationship with Aaliyah to light in 1994.
Allegations of sex tapes involving young girls started emerging and he was arrested on child porn charges in 2003.
The singer went to trial on these charges in Chicago in 2008 but was acquitted due to a lack of evidence, freeing him to revive his music career.
The judge denied the request to dismiss the case early Wednesday.
She also ruled on other motions, including granting prosecutors permission to include evidence they claim shows sexual abuse by the star back in 1991 and which relates to the charges over his marriage to Aaliyah.
Timeline of R. Kelly’s downfall from R&B superstar to ‘sexual predator’
August 1994: At age 27, R. Kelly marries 15-year-old R&B singer Aaliyah D. Haughton. The couple weds in a secret ceremony arranged by Kelly at a hotel in Chicago. The marriage is annulled months later because of Aaliyah’s age. Aaliyah dies in a plane crash seven years later at age 22.
February 1997: Tiffany Hawkins files a complaint against Kelly alleging intentional sexual battery and sexual harassment while she was a minor. The lawsuit is reportedly settled for $250,000 the following January.
August 2001: Tracy Sampson files a lawsuit against Kelly, alleging their sex was illegal under Illinois law because he was in ‘a position of authority’ over her. The case was reportedly settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.
February 2002: The Chicago Sun-Times reported that it received a videotape allegedly showing Kelly having sex with a minor. The paper reported Chicago police began investigating allegations about Kelly and the same girl three years earlier. At the time, the girl and her parents denies she was having sex with Kelly.
June 2002: Kelly is indicted in Chicago on child pornography charges stemming from the sex tape. He pleads not guilty and is released on $750,000 bail.
January 2003: Kelly is arrested at a Florida hotel on additional child pornography charges after investigators said they found photos of him having sex with a girl. Charges are later dropped after the judge ruled police didn´t have a warrant to search Kelly’s house.
September 2005: Kelly’s wife Andrea Kelly asks for an order of protection from her husband, accusing the singer of hitting her when she said she wanted a divorce. The couple confirm they have divorced in 2009.
February 2006: Kelly’s brother, Carey Kelly, says his brother offered him $50,000 and a record deal to say he was the person on the sex video.
May 2008: Kelly’s child pornography trial begins. He is acquitted on all counts the next month after less than a full day of deliberations.
July 2017: BuzzFeed reports on parents’ claims that Kelly brainwashed their daughters and was keeping them in an abusive ‘cult.’ One woman says she was with Kelly willingly. Following the BuzzFeed report, activists launched the #MuteRKelly movement, calling for boycotts of his music.
April 2018: The Time’s Up campaign, devoted to helping women in the aftermath of sexual abuse, joins the #MuteRKelly social media campaign and pushes for further investigation into Kelly’s behavior, which had come under closer scrutiny over the previous year as women came forward accusing him of sexual coercion and physical abuse. Kelly´s camp responds: ‘We will vigorously resist this attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture.’
May 2018: Spotify cuts R. Kelly’s music from its playlists, citing its policy on hate content and hateful conduct. Shortly after, Apple and Pandora also stop promoting his music. Kelly’s team pushes back, noting other artists on Spotify had been accused or convicted of crimes.
The same month Faith Rodgers, 20, files a lawsuit accusing R. Kelly of sexual battery, mental and verbal abuse, and knowingly inflicting her with herpes during a yearlong relationship.
January 2019: Lifetime airs the documentary ‘Surviving R. Kelly,’ which revisited old allegations against him and brought new ones into the spotlight. The series followed the BBC’s ‘R Kelly: Sex, Girls & Videotapes,’ released the previous year, that alleged the singer was holding women against their will.
Lady Gaga apologizes for her 2013 duet with Kelly, saying she intended to remove the song, ‘Do What U Want (With My Body),’ from streaming services.
Faith Rogers says Kelly had written a letter the previous October to one of her lawyers, threatening to reveal embarrassing details of her sexual history if she didn’t drop her May 2018 lawsuit accusing him of sexual abuse.
Multiple media outlets reports Kelly and his label, Sony subsidiary RCA Records, part ways. Lady Gaga and Celine Dion remove their duets with Kelly from streaming services, and French rock band Phoenix apologizes for collaborating with Kelly in 2013. Kelly continues to deny all allegations of sexual misconduct.
February 2019: Attorney Michael Avenatti says he gave Chicago prosecutors new video evidence of Kelly having sex with an underage girl, and that it is not the same evidence used in Kelly’s 2008 trial.
Kelly is arrested and charged with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse. Kelly’s attorney enters not guilty pleas on the singer’s behalf. Hours later, Kelly posts bail and is released from jail in Chicago.
March 2019: CBS airs interview in which Kelly vehemently denied the sexual abuse charges against him. Later, authorities in Cook County take Kelly into custody after he tells a judge he couldn´t pay $161,000 in back child support he owed his children’s mother.
May 2019: Kelly is charged with 11 new sex-related counts in Chicago. They involve one of the women who accused him of sexually abusing her when she was underage.
July 2019: Kelly is indicted by a federal grand jury in Chicago on charges including child pornography, enticement of a minor and obstruction of justice. A separate indictment filed in the Eastern District of New York included charges of racketeering, kidnapping, forced labor and the sexual exploitation of a child. He is again arrested in Chicago.
A federal judge orders Kelly held in jail without bond after a prosecutor warned he would pose an extreme danger to young girls if set free.
August 2019: Kelly pleads not guilty to federal charges accusing him of sexually abusing women and girls who attended his concerts, as his lawyers continue to label the alleged victims disgruntled ‘groupies.’
Kelly is charged in Minnesota with prostitution and solicitation related to an allegation that he invited a 17-year-old girl to his hotel room in 2001 and paid her $200 to dance naked with him.
October 2019: Kelly is denied bail in his New York City sex abuse case after a judge agreed with prosecutors that freeing him from jail would create a risk of him fleeing or tampering with witnesses.
December 2019: Kelly is charged by federal prosecutors with paying a bribe in exchange for a ‘fraudulent identification document’ for an unidentified female a day before he married R&B singer Aaliyah. He later pleads not guilty.
March 2020: Kelly pleads not guilty in Chicago to an updated federal indictment that included child pornography charges and allegations involving a new accuser, while prosecutors say more charges alleging yet another victim were upcoming.
August 2020: Federal prosecutors announce charges against three men accused of threatening and intimidating women who have accused R&B singer Kelly of abuse, including one man suspected of setting fire to a vehicle in Florida.
Kelly’s manager is arrested in California on charges that he threatened a shooting at a Manhattan theater two years ago, forcing an evacuation and the cancellation of the screening of a documentary addressing allegations that the singer had sexually abused women and girls.
July 2021: Federal prosecutors in Kelly´s sex trafficking case say he had sexual contact with an underage boy in addition to girls, and the government wants jurors in his upcoming trial to hear those claims.
August 2021: Kelly’s long-anticipated federal trial begins in New York with opening statements on August 18.