First ‘John Doe’ In R. Kelly Trial Testifies He Was Forced Into Sex Acts
Warning: The following story contains graphic descriptions of sexual abuse.
NEW YORK — The first male witness to speak publicly about alleged sexual abuse at the hands of R. Kelly took the stand on Monday in the singer’s criminal trial. The man testified that over the course of his relationship with Kelly, the R&B singer gave him oral sex, made him have sex with other women and routinely recorded sexual encounters.
The witness, referred to throughout his testimony by the pseudonym “Louis,” is the first man to accuse Kelly of sexual abuse in the trial. Kelly is facing five federal charges, including one count of racketeering and four counts of violating the Mann Act, which prohibits taking minors across state lines for the purpose of prostitution. The R&B singer’s criminal trial began two weeks ago at the Brooklyn Federal Court Building and will likely last at least a month.
Louis’s testimony was different from that of several Jane Does who have painted a harrowing picture of graphic sexual and physical abuse. Louis testified that Kelly never physically abused him but that the singer did try to give him oral sex when he was 17 in Illinois. (The legal age of consent in Illinois is 17, but because Kelly was almost 40 at the time, it constitutes sexual abuse.)
“We had sat down and talked for a while, and he had asked me what I was willing to do for the music,” said Louis, referring to one of the first times he went over to Kelly’s Olympia Fields home outside of Chicago. He recalled telling Kelly that he would carry his bags, among other things, but that answer didn’t satisfy Kelly, according to Louis. Kelly then asked him if he had fantasies.
“‘You ever had a fantasy about you and a man?’ I said ‘no,’” Louis recalled Kelly asking him. “He crawled down on his knees to me and proceeded to give me oral sex.” Louis said he told Kelly he didn’t like it and the singer stopped.
Unlike the majority of past witnesses, it’s unclear if Louis still supports Kelly or if their relationship continues. In 2020, Louis was charged with attempted bribery for trying to pay off a potential witness in the case against Kelly. Louis told the court that Kelly had nothing to do with the $2 million bribe, and Louis was pursuing the witness because he was allegedly going to receive a payment of $200,000. Additionally, Louis said he was trying to bribe the potential witness so that none of the recordings Kelly took of him having sex went public. It’s unclear who was bankrolling the bribe.
Louis pleaded guilty and, as part of his plea deal, was required to testify as a witness in Kelly’s trial on Monday. When asked by prosecutors if he wanted to be there, Louis responded, “No.” Louis said he is facing 15 years in prison for the bribery charge.
Louis met Kelly in 2006 when the witness was a senior in high school working at a McDonald’s outside of Chicago. Louis, who was an aspiring rapper at the time, said he initially linked up with Kelly hoping that the singer could help him get into the music industry. Although Louis did perform for Kelly a few times in the singer’s at-home studio, Louis testified that he mostly played basketball with Kelly and attended the singer’s house parties.
Over the course of their 15-year relationship, Louis said, he and Kelly had many sexual encounters. The majority of the encounters, Louis said, included Kelly coercing Louis into having sex with women, most of whom were dating Kelly at the time. Louis testified that Kelly often recorded these interactions even though it made him uncomfortable.
Eventually, Louis said, Kelly told him to start calling him “Daddy,” a name Kelly required all of his girlfriends, many of whom were minors, to use.
Louis testified he was once at Kelly’s Olympia Fields home and the singer forced him to receive oral sex from a woman. “He told me he wanted me to have sex with his girlfriend,” Louis told jurors, adding that Kelly was in the room recording the sexual encounter with his iPad. “I really couldn’t get really excited because it was an uncomfortable situation.”
Louis said Kelly became frustrated and shouted at him: “When he seen I wasn’t getting excited, he said, ‘I’m confused. I don’t know what you want: a woman or man.’”
Louis is one of two John Does discussed in the uncharged evidence; neither are included in the original indictment. Another male victim that Louis discussed while on the stand was a young man referred to as “Nephew” earlier in the trial. Louis identified Nephew as his best friend from high school and said he introduced Nephew to Kelly at a house party around 2006. Earlier in the trial, a Jane Doe confirmed that Nephew was also a victim of Kelly’s abuse, telling jurors that Kelly forced her and Nephew to have sex while the singer filmed them.
“He said he had been grooming ‘Nephew’ since he was young like me,” Doe recalled Kelly telling her.
In court Monday, the photo Louis used to identify the other male victim matched an earlier photo that Jane Doe confirmed as “Nephew.”
Louis related in a particularly graphic story that Kelly tried to force Louis and Nephew to have sex while the R&B singer watched. The alleged encounter happened while Kelly was living in Trump Towers around 2018, Louis testified.
“[Kelly] instructed me and the individual to touch each other, kiss each other,” Louis said. When Louis continually declined to have sex with Nephew, Kelly began having sex with Nephew, Louis testified, telling him, “C’mon [Nephew], let’s show him how it’s supposed to be done.”
Louis said it was clear that Kelly was in charge because he was instructing Nephew on what to do throughout the sexual interaction.
The last time Louis saw Kelly in person, he said, the singer made him write a letter falsely claiming that people were paying Louis to say that he and Kelly had a sexual relationship. Several other victims have testified that Kelly made them write incriminating letters that contained false information as a form of blackmail.
Louis’s testimony ended on a poignant note when the prosecution asked what Kelly had done to advance his music career. “Nothing,” he responded.
As of Monday afternoon, 16 witnesses had taken the stand in Kelly’s trial. Many of the witnesses include charged and uncharged individuals, as well as former assistants, managers and others who were close to Kelly throughout his career. The trial is expected to continue for at least another month.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.
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