NEW YORK — An eighth accuser took the stand on Monday within the federal case in opposition to R. Kelly to testify that she was sexually assaulted throughout a visit to his Chicago studio to interview him for her job.
The Jane Doe, who was launched as “Sonja,” accused Kelly, who’s at the moment on trial in Brooklyn going through expenses of racketeering and violating the Mann Act, of sexually assaulting her whereas she was unconscious at his Chocolate Manufacturing unit studio when she was 21. In her testimony, Sonja, who’s represented by Gloria Allred, was talking out in regards to the alleged assault for the primary time.
“It made me really feel like one thing occurred to me. I do know my physique,” she informed the courtroom. “I felt like someone, one thing had been within me.” Assistant U.S. Legal professional Maria Cruz Melendez requested Sonja what she thought had occurred whereas she was unconscious. “I consider I used to be touched … sexually.”
Sonja additionally accused Kelly of holding her in opposition to her will in a locked room on the studio and depriving her of meals and water for no less than two days. She mentioned that Kelly’s worker additionally threatened her to maintain quiet, telling her, “Don’t fuck with Mr. Kelly.”
Sonja, who’s now 39 years previous, testified that she met the R&B artist when he was at a mall in Salt Lake Metropolis on Aug. 12, 2003. She was simply beginning her profession in media as an intern at an area radio station and determined to go to the mall to attempt to get an interview with him.
“It will’ve been my first large superstar interview,” Sonja mentioned. “I assumed it could actually kickstart my profession.”
When she and her pal approached Kelly’s tour bus within the mall parking zone to ask for an interview, he pointed her within the path of somebody in his entourage and informed him to “ask him.” Sonja mentioned that the person, who she believed was his supervisor, declined to do an interview that day, refusing to go to the radio station or do a cellphone interview “as a result of it sounds off.” Whereas Sonja and her pal have been taking a photograph with Kelly, somebody slipped a bit of paper that had the singer’s title and quantity on it, she mentioned.
That very same day, she referred to as to ask once more in regards to the interview. Kelly and Sonja spoke over the cellphone a couple of occasions and he or she testified that “in some unspecified time in the future” he agreed to do the interview.
Kelly’s workforce paid for and organized journey for Sonja to fly from Salt Lake Metropolis to Chicago. Sonja mentioned she knowledgeable her boss in regards to the interview, and he gave her a recording system to take along with her. She mentioned the interview was “sort of an enormous deal” and that she was ready for it.
She traveled to Chicago by herself, bringing her grandparents’ mobile phone along with her as she couldn’t afford the long-distance charges that might incur along with her cellphone plan. After lacking her first flight, she caught a later one and landed in Chicago that evening. She referred to as the assistant who organized the journey and was informed to take a cab to the Chocolate Manufacturing unit.
Sonja mentioned she was greeted by Kelly’s safety, who requested her if she wanted “safety.” Confused by the query, he clarified that he meant a condom. She mentioned she responded, “No, I’m not right here for that.”
She was escorted to a room on the studio along with her baggage and was requested for ID, her cellphone and the previous couple of numbers that she had dialed together with the relation and addresses of the individuals these numbers have been related to. Sonja additionally testified to being requested to signal a confidentiality settlement, which she mentioned was arduous to learn because the room was darkish. She mentioned that somebody had additionally searched by means of her baggage with out her consent and he or she was given an inventory of guidelines that she wanted to observe whereas she was on the Chocolate Manufacturing unit.
After being left within the room alone for a couple of minutes, she tried to open the door. It was locked from the surface, she testified. Initially she thought it was an accident, she mentioned, however after she started knocking and banging on the door with no solutions, it turned increasingly more evident that it wasn’t.
“I used to be scared, for one,” she mentioned. “I used to be ashamed. I used to be embarrassed.”
Sonja was within the room for days with out seeing Kelly. She used the landline supplied by reception to ask to be set free of the windowless room however was denied. She was set free and escorted when she wanted to make use of the restroom, at occasions being pressured to go away the door open. Generally reception would reply her calls; typically they wouldn’t in the event that they knew it was her calling, she mentioned. When she referred to as to ask for meals or water, the receptionist informed her that the request “needed to get permitted by Mr. Kelly.”
JANE ROSENBERG through Reuters
Sonia was capable of hold her grandparents’ mobile phone, which she used to speak to her household and mates “as a lot as I may.” She testified to solely telling Charity in regards to the particulars of her expertise.
At one level, she was escorted to take a bathe, she informed Cruz Melendez. Quickly after, somebody introduced her Chinese language meals and a mushy drink on a inexperienced tray. She testified to solely taking a couple of bites of the meals and some sips of the drink earlier than she felt “extraordinarily full” and “drained.”
She mentioned that she misplaced consciousness, however didn’t recall falling asleep. “I don’t bear in mind how I bought from my chair on the desk to the sofa.”
She mentioned she awakened disoriented along with her underwear off and he or she was on the arm of the sofa. She testified that she didn’t take away her underwear, as she was unconscious.
“There was some moist stuff between my legs … and on my thighs,” she mentioned. She observed Kelly “doing up his pants within the nook” of the room. It was the primary time she had seen the singer since arriving days prior for the interview.
Sonja mentioned as soon as she noticed him, she bought up from the sofa, requested him how he was doing and hugged him. As she reached to hug him, she testified that Kelly grabbed her butt “with each palms” and mentioned that he’d be again.
Shortly after he left the room, one in all his workers informed Sonja that he wouldn’t be coming again. She was then informed she needed to signal a second confidentiality settlement. She mentioned the worker informed her, “Don’t fuck with Mr. Kelly.” She was capable of go away quickly after.
“He was threatening me,” she mentioned. She recalled the addresses of her family members that she had given to Kelly’s worker upon her arrival to the Chocolate Manufacturing unit. She mentioned she particularly feared for the security of her younger daughter.
“Did you’re taking that menace to coronary heart?” Cruz Melendez requested Sonja, to which she replied, “Sure.”
Throughout cross-examination, Kelly’s lead protection lawyer Deveraux Cannick requested Sonja if she had employed Allred after the “Surviving R. Kelly” docuseries premiered, to which she mentioned sure. The protection additionally questioned if she dialed 911 whereas she was trapped within the room at Chocolate Manufacturing unit or went to the police after. She testified that she didn’t.
Whereas presenting the picture of Kelly that Sonja and her pal took the day they met the singer, Cannick requested, “This can be a image of your rapist, is that right?” He later requested why she didn’t go house and tear it up, a query he withdrew after confusion from Choose Ann Donnelly.
Cannick requested her why she had signed the second NDA, to which she answered, “I simply wished to go house.” The lawyer additionally questioned the validity of her declare that she was sexually assaulted.
“You informed the authorities that you just couldn’t say categorically that it was a sexual encounter, right?” Cannick mentioned. Sonja agreed that she mentioned that.
In the course of the redirect questioning, Cruz Melendez requested Sonja about her long-term silence about her expertise.
“I didn’t assume anyone would consider me,” she mentioned. The prosecutor then requested her “if there was any doubt in her thoughts that you just had fluid, wetness in your vaginal space?”
“I used to be sexually assaulted … It wasn’t one thing I invited,” she replied.