The case of prosecutors in the federal trial of R. Kelly in Chicago. The 4th woman testifies that she was a victim

CHICAGO — Nia was just 15 when she left her home in Atlanta in 1996 to fly to Minneapolis at the request of R. Kelly, the R&B superstar twice her age.

She had no identification and didn’t tell her mother where she was going, Nia, now 42, said in federal court Tuesday. After a white limousine picked her up to take her to the airport, she asked the driver to stop at a gas station and bought a single rose to give to Kelly.

“I wanted him to know how I felt about him,” she said. “And I felt like that would be a gesture that would be sweet.”

Instead, Kelly sexually assaulted her in a hotel room and hurried away before she could even give him the rose, she testified. After another inappropriate encounter at Kelly’s recording studio in Chicago, he stopped returning her calls. When she saw him again a few years later at a video shoot in California, he didn’t even acknowledge that he knew her, she said.

Nia’s harrowing story was one of the last things jurors heard before prosecutors relieved their chief case officer on Tuesday after calling about 25 witnesses over 10 days of testimony against the disgraced singer and his two co-defendants.

Judge Harry Leinenweber adjourned the trial until Thursday morning, when defense attorneys can begin calling their witnesses.

In a surprise move, prosecutors closed after calling only four of Kelly’s five accusers they said jurors would hear during the trial.

It was unclear why prosecutors did not call the fifth alleged victim, “Brittany,” to the stand as they had promised to do. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Julien told jurors in opening statements that Brittany was 16 when Kelly first had sex with her.

It does not appear that prosecutors intend to drop any of the charges related to Brittany, so jurors will have to rely on affidavits about her from other witnesses in order to decide their verdict on those charges.

Kelly’s godmother “Jane” testified early in the trial that Kelly engaged her in a threesome with Brittany between five and 10 times. The first time, Jane was about 15 and Brittany was a little older, Jane testified. The two girls fell out of friendship when Jane learned Brittany was also seeing Kelly separately, she testified.

“Pauline” testified this week that Kelly also had a threesome with her and Brittany when Pauline was 15 or 16, and she said Brittany is about a year older than her. Pauline said that when she was 20, she called Kelly’s business pretending to be Brittany and threatened to go public with wrongdoing if she didn’t give her money.

“Well, he called it blackmail,” she memorably testified. “I called it ‘don’t play with me.’ “

Meanwhile, Nia testified in a soft voice Tuesday that she met Kelly in the spring of 1996 at an Atlanta mall. She approached the singer for an autograph and when Kelly gave her his signature she also wrote his phone number on the paper.

They began having phone conversations, and during one, she told him she was 15, he said. He said he wanted to come see one of his concerts and arranged to travel to Minnesota for a concert, he testified.

A limo took her to her mother’s apartment in Atlanta — and on the way to the airport they stopped at a gas station so she could pick up the rose. She went to the concert in Minnesota and Kelly came to her hotel room the next day, she said.

Kelly hugged her and kissed her on the lips in greeting, she said. He asked if they could take a picture together, but Kelly declined.

Kelly instructed Nia to take off her clothes, walk around and then sit next to him on the bed, she testified.

She complied and Kelly kissed her, asked her if she was a virgin and began performing a sexual act on himself, she testified.

When he finished, he hurried out of the room, she testified.

“It’s cleaned up and gone,” he said. “I never got a chance to give him a rose.”

Kelly had mentioned wanting to see her in Chicago, and Nia arranged to stay with her family there after school in the summer of 1996, she testified. One night she went with three cousins ​​to visit him in his studio, he said.

Kelly greeted them but expressed surprise that she did not come alone, she testified. During the night he called her twice so they could kiss alone in the hallway. During one of those occasions he grabbed her by the bottom of her pants, she testified.

Nia told her cousins ​​none of this, she testified: “The reason they came was to prevent anything from happening and I didn’t want them to know.”

Later that summer she tried to contact him several times and he never got back to her, she testified.

They ran into each other again a short time later in California during a video shoot for Kelly’s “If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time,” Nia testified. She was an aspiring actress and model at the time, she said. Kelly didn’t seem to know who she was.

“He never acknowledged me or spoke to me, but sometimes I felt like he would look in my direction and might have recognized me,” she said.

In 2002, Nia filed a lawsuit against Kelly alleging sexual intercourse with a minor, and Kelly agreed to pay $500,000 to settle the claim, she testified.

On cross-examination, Bonjean was incredulous that Nia could have boarded a flight without identification, as she testified, and pressed her on whether she had actually told Kelly her age. Nia remained adamant that she did.

“If you had told him you were 15, you should have also discussed the fact that your mother would not condone or consent to you leaving the state of Georgia, getting on a plane by yourself, and going to see an adult, correctly;”

Prosecutors objected and Leinenweber entered the plea.

Nia’s mother was a nurse and had already left for work when the limo came to pick Nia up for her trip to Minnesota, she said.

Bonjean claimed that Nia filed her lawsuit “shortly” after Kelly snubbed her on the set of the music video and after hearing that Kelly was in trouble for child pornography charges.

Nia testified that she contacted the lawyer to see if she could be useful as a witness against Kelly — a claim Bonjean was visibly skeptical of.

“Have you contacted a private attorney… because they might help you in the prosecution?” asked. “Didn’t you contact the Cook County District Attorney and let them know?”

Prosecutors briefly called Sheryl Ware, who identified herself as Nia’s cousin’s ex-wife, to the stand. He was among the group of cousins ​​who came to Kelly’s studio, he said.

Ware noted that she recognized Kelly because he was wearing the same shirt he wore in the music video for “Gotham City,” she said, and was in the studio that night until early morning.

As they were leaving, Kelly said “let me talk to (Nia) for a minute,” Ware testified.

“I was like, ‘You’ve got five minutes.’ So they went out into the hallway,” he said. “He was out there exactly five minutes, because I got out in five minutes.”

Jurors on Monday heard from two other women who testified about having sex with Kelly while they were minors. Pauline said she had sex with the disgraced singer dozens if not hundreds of times when she was a minor, and Tracy – who testified using only her first name – told jurors in extensive detail about his sexual abuse and assault. Kelly when she was 16 years old.

Both women were strongly cross-examined by Bonjean, who claimed that both women had actually reached 17 — the Illinois age of consent — when they began their sexual relations with Kelly.

Kelly, 55, is charged with 13 counts of producing child pornography, conspiracy to produce child pornography and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Also on trial are Kelly’s former associates Derrel McDavid and Milton “June” Brown, who the indictment alleges conspired to buy back incriminating sex tapes taken from Kelly’s collection and cover up years of alleged sexual abuse of underage girls.

The first week of the trial focused on “Jane,” who identified herself as the girl who was sexually assaulted by the then-superstar in three separate videos from the 1990s.

One of those videos became the subject of Kelly’s 2008 trial in Cook County, in which he was acquitted of child pornography charges because, according to prosecutors, Kelly and his associates went to great lengths to keep “Jane » quiet and recover other incriminating shots.

Witnesses last week focused heavily on those efforts. Three people testified that Kelly’s team paid them to bring him videos of his improvised child pornography while he awaited his trial in Cook County. Defense attorneys, during lengthy arguments, challenged their stories as inconsistent and tried to paint them as unreliable extortionists.

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