The woman, who identified herself as Stephanie, said before the jury on Thursday that the comment came during a dinner with two other rappers, when she was just 17 years old, The New York Times reported.
“Even look at Jerry Lee Lewis,” Stephanie, now 39, recalled Kelly saying of the musician who famously married his 13-year-old cousin in the late 1950s. “He’s a genius and I’m a genius. We should be allowed to do what we want — look at what we give to the world.”
Kelly, who has been in custody since 2019 but has maintained his innocence, is facing federal charges of racketeering and sex trafficking, and has pleaded not guilty. His trial began in Brooklyn on Aug. 9 after delays brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
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Stephanie — who has not previously spoken about her encounters with Kelly — is one of six women whose allegations “make up the heart of the prosecution’s case,” the Times reported.
“That was definitely the hardest time of my life. I had very low self-esteem,” she said, according to the Times. “I’d already been through sexual trauma within my family, by my first boss, by men on the street. I was very vulnerable.”
She reportedly testified that she was 17 years old when she approached Kelly in 1999 seeking an audition for her friend. She claims he agreed, and told Stephanie he’d like to “get to know” her and would like to “cuddle.”
Antonio Perez/Getty Images R. Kelly
Stephanie said she agreed in order to help her friend, and soon, they were having sex, though she said she was upfront with him about the fact that she was underage, the Times reported.
“I’ve never been treated like that before or since,” she reportedly said. “He humiliated me, degraded me, he scared me. I’ll never forget the way he treated me.”
Stephanie alleged that Kelly’s moods could quickly turn from “nice and charming” to “controlling [and] intimidating,” particularly during sex, and that he would allegedly sometimes tell her to remove her clothes, get in a particular position, and leave the room for up to several hours. If he returned to find that she’d moved, he would get angry, she testified, according to the Times.
The breaking point in their relationship that ultimately led her to cut off contact was when he flew her and a friend to Orlando, then allegedly left them there for several days in a house they did not leave, the Times reported. Upon his return, Kelly directed her to have oral sex while he recorded, Stephanie said.
Nicole Blank Becker, one of Kelly’s four lawyers, reportedly said in court that the age of consent in Illinois is 17 years old, though the Times noted that the law is only applicable if the age difference between partners is less than five years, and Kelly was 32 at the time.
KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP/Getty R. Kelly
Stephanie is one of many women who have accused Kelly of various sexual abuse crimes, many of which were chronicled in the 2019 documentary Surviving R. Kelly. According to the Times, she is one of three women who have testified that they were underage when Kelly had sex with them.
Prosecutors allege Kelly and his team — including managers, bodyguards and assistants — “traveled throughout the United States and abroad to perform at concert venues…and to recruit women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with Kelly” as far back as 1999.
His 2019 indictment said that Kelly allegedly required his victims to follow “numerous rules” in which they “were not permitted to leave their room without receiving permission, including to eat or go to the bathroom,” were “not permitted to look at other men” and “were required to call Kelly ‘Daddy.'”
It also accused him of “engaging in sexual activity with girls under 18 years old,” of failing to disclose a “sexually transmitted disease” he’d contracted, and producing child pornography by requesting that underage girls send him photographs.