R. Kelly’s racketeering case opened on Wednesday. Aside from his illegal marriage to Aaliyah being highlighted, the trial’s opening day featured the first time Kelly’s accusers took the stand against him in a criminal case.
Jerhonda Pace testified in a Brooklyn courtroom on Wednesday and stated the first time she had sex with R. Kelly was when she was 16 years old. She stated R. Kelly was an idol but would go on to physically and emotionally abuse her while being forced to live under “Rob’s rules.”
According to The New York Times, The rules were in effect whenever Pace was at Kelly’s home, and she was forced to call him “Daddy” and have to acknowledge him whenever he entered a room. If she did not do so, she was punished.
“That’s when he slapped me and choked me until I passed out,” Pace said of an incident in his Chicago home. “I remember him just putting his hand around my neck.”
She added, “He spit in my face and told me to put my head down in shame.” that moment led to her being forced into a sexual act.
Kelly’s New York trial is focused on interactions with Pace and five other women and girls. The nine-count indictment includes charges of racketeering and violations of the Mann Act, an interstate anti-prostitution law.
“He began collecting girls and women as if they were things,” Maria Cruz Melendez, an assistant U.S. attorney, said in her opening statement, “hoarding them like objects that he could use however he liked.”
In opposition, Nicole Blank Becker, one of Kelly’s lawyers, becked at the testimony.
“We believe their testimony will crumble,” Ms. Blank Becker said to jurors. “There will be so many untruths told to you, ladies and gentlemen, that even the government won’t be able to untangle the mess of lies.”
Pace was included in the Surviving R. Kelly documentary and, at first, told Kells she was 19. After a sexual encounter, Pace stated she told R. Kelly her actual age. He asked me, ‘What is that supposed to mean?’ and told me to tell everyone I was 19 — and to act 21,” she testified. R. Kelly’s legal team referred to Pace as both a “super fan” and “groupie.”
R. Kelly is facing a minimum of 10 years and up to life in prison if convicted.