Jerhonda Johnson Pace was the first of the accusers to testify. Pace told Buzzfeed News in 2017 that she first met Kelly when she was a teenager, skipping school to attend Kelly’s 2008 trial, in which he was found not guilty of child pornography charges. She essentially repeated the narrative in court, stating that she had a sexual connection with Kelly despite being underage at the time.
Pace was also featured prominently in the 2019 documentary Surviving R. Kelly, in which she discussed her experiences living with R. Kelly. Pace told the jury that Kelly became physically abusive when she didn’t follow his strict orders. “That’s when he slapped me and choked me until I passed out,” she said. “I remember him just putting his hand around my neck.”
A running theme in the Kelly case is that Kelly degraded his accusers physically, emotionally, sexually, and psychologically. Pace, who called Kelly “Rob,” said that the disgraced singer had demeaning rules that his accusers could not use phones, had to wear baggy clothes that concealed their figures. And Pace, now 28, said Kelly made it clear that she had to kiss him whenever he entered the room, or the consequences might be physical or sexual abuse.
Pace alleges that she and Kelly started a sexual relationship when she was 16, and she told the jury that Kelly had a fetish about making her dress in a particular way. “He wanted me to put my hair up in pigtails and dress like a girl scout,” she testified to. She also claimed that Kelly had ridged rules, including calling him “Daddy” anytime she was in his presence.
However, on cross-examination, one of Kelly’s lawyers, Deveraux Cannick, attempted to portray Pace as a pathological liar, namely about her age and motives. “I knew I had lied about my age,” Pace admitted on the stand. When she first met Kelly, she said she was 19 but later told him that she was 16 after their first sexual encounter at his suburban Chicago home in 2008.
Kelly’s lawyer also accused Pace of stalking the singer, saying that she drove past his home around 30 times, something that Pace denied. Yet, she did admit to video recording herself waiting outside of Kelly’s home once.
“Would you categorize yourself as a groupie?” Cannick asked Pace. “No,” she replied. Pace admitted to writing a book about her time with Kelly. But said she only received over $25,000 but less than $100,000. Pace acknowledged reaching a financial settlement with Kelly, a first agreement that was a payoff for her silence because he daedally knew that he was committing a criminal act given her age at the time.
Nevertheless, Pace told the court that he took a dismissive attitude once Kelly discovered her actual age. “He asked me, ‘what is that supposed to mean?'” she said, “He told me to continue telling people I was 19 and act like I was 21.”
Pace describes Kelly as someone who needed to teach her (she reported that when she and Kelly had sex, she was a virgin) how to make him happy sexually and that he gave her the sexually transmitted disease herpes.
Kelly was once dubbed the “King of R&B,” a hitmaker who collaborated with Celine Dion and Justin Bieber. Since July 2019, he has been detained in prison awaiting the commencement of his New York trial. (Another federal trial will be held in Illinois on different allegations of child pornography and obstruction.) The epidemic caused the long delays in New York, superseding charges filed by both sets of prosecutors and rounds of the reshuffle on his defense team.
New York federal prosecutors are constructing their case in the manner of an organized criminal prosecution. Kelly is accused of racketeering, which means he reportedly operated a criminal business with the express goal of “preying upon young women and adolescents,” with the help of managers, gofers, and others in his entourage, as well as sexually trafficking the girls and women over state borders.
The government also wants jurors to hear and see what they claim is proof of additional, uncharged criminal crimes Kelly did between 1991 and 2018. Six alleged victims are included in the New York indictments, including singer Aaliyah, Kelly’s former protégée whom he married in 1994 when she was 15 and he was 27. There are 20 Jane Does and one adolescent John Doe among the other accusations.
Kelly is accused of many crimes, including child sexual exploitation, bribery, abduction, forced labor, and cross-state sexual trafficking. Kelly has pled not guilty to all allegations leveled against her. Kelly was described as a “predator” in Kelly’s opening statement by Assistant US Attorney Maria Melendez, who told the jury that he was “a guy who utilized his celebrity, notoriety, and the people at his disposal to target and groom girls, boys, and young women for his sexual pleasure.”
Nicole Blank Becker, Kelly’s defense attorney, portrays the accusers as liars who had long-term, consensual relationships with Kelly. “They’ll tell you that Mr. Kelly is a monster. You’ll also learn that some of these relationships were very lovely, “Becker said.
Seven men and five women make up the jury, who will remain nameless and partly sequestered during the proceedings. The study will last about one month. Due to ongoing coronavirus precautions in the Brooklyn courthouse where the trial is held, the press and the general public are limited to overflow courtrooms with video and audio feeds.
This site will provide updates on the testimony that proves critical in the case against R. Kelly