One of R. Kelly’s alleged abusers recounted in testimony Thursday that the singer said “genius” artists could behave as they pleased and compared himself to Jerry Lee Lewis, who married a child.
Stephanie, who said she was 17 during her six-month relationship in 1999 with Kelly, recalled a conversation with the R&B artist and two others when he said he preferred “young girls” and questioned why “people make such a big deal of it.”
“Look at Jerry Lee Lewis,” she quoted Kelly as saying, referring to the influential rock and roll pioneer who controversially married his 13-year-old second cousin in the 1950s.
“He’s a genius and I’m a genius. We should be able to do whatever we want,” Kelly is alleged to have said.
“Look at what we give the world.”
Stephanie, now 39, is the third accuser to take the stand against Kelly, who’s on trial in Brooklyn federal court for racketeering, sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, bribery and forced labor between 1994 and 2018.
Stephanie first met Kelly at a McDonald’s in Chicago, where one of his associates gave her his number on a slip of paper.
She threw it away and didn’t see him until a year later, when he was holding a promotional event at a Nike store near where she worked. She approached him hoping he could help her friend, an aspiring singer.
That help never came but Stephanie and Kelly soon after began a sexual relationship, with the superstar brushing it off when told him she was only 17, according to testimony.
She described the relationship with Kelly as “humiliating,” describing in lurid detail his demands, and saying he routinely filmed their sexual encounters.
“He could put the fear of God in me very quickly,” she said, saying she complied because “I didn’t feel like I had a choice,” saying she’d suffered past abuse both at home and by a former boss. She also said she feared what the singer would do with their recorded tapes.
Around the time she turned 18, Stephanie said she decided to stop seeing Kelly: “I felt used and humiliated and degraded.”
“I just didn’t want to be abused anymore.”
The first two weeks of the long-anticipated trial has included searing testimony from accusers, offering a glimpse into the sprawling web of physical, sexual and emotional abuse Kelly, now 54, is accused of steering for more than two decades.
Kelly, now 54, denies all charges, and faces between 10 years and life in prison if convicted on all counts.
The trial is expected to last at least a month.