Songwriting

Witnesses say R. Kelly asked them to write false and damaging letters

Kelly has pleaded not guilty to all counts.

A woman who testified under the pseudonym Jane said that during his nearly five-year relationship with the singer, he asked her and his other girlfriends to write four to five letters per an which often contained false and sometimes damaging statements.

“He said that these were basically letters that would never see the light of day and that they basically had to exploit us to protect him,” Jane said on August 23.

The letters resurfaced as Jane testified against Kelly for sexually assaulting her when she was 17. During cross-examination, the singer’s defense attorney, Deveraux Cannick, asked her to read a letter she allegedly wrote to her brother.

“If (Kelly) knew I was 17, he wouldn’t even bother me at all,” Jane said as she read the letter.

While it appeared that the letter directly contradicted her testimony, she later said it was one of the letters written under Kelly’s direction. She testified that the allegations were false and that they were never sent to her brother.

These types of documents surfaced several times at Kelly’s trial.

‘Collateral’

Kelly is not the only defendant to be accused of having asked others to write this type of letter, sometimes called “guarantees”.

Moira Penza, a former federal prosecutor who helped convict Keith Raniere, founder of the Nxivm sect, said these types of letters can be a “powerful tool of coercion” for attackers.

Raniere asked the leaders of a secret group known as DOS to ask their “slaves” to write similar “guaranteed” letters to make sure they were keeping the group a secret. Raniere was convicted of racketeering and sex trafficking and sentenced to life in prison.

“You have the letters that are used to keep someone in line, but if the person manages to get out of that control and report the person, the letters can be used to attack their credibility,” Penza told CNN. . “Once someone writes a letter like this and delivers it, they have lost all ability to say no to whatever comes next without fear of seriously harming every aspect of their life,” he said. said Penza.

In another case currently pending, Lawrence Ray, the father of a former Sarah Lawrence College student, has pleaded not guilty to the sex trafficking charges. He is said to have controlled his victims, among other allegations, by berating them for making “false confessions” for wrongdoing that prosecutors say they did not commit. He reportedly asked victims to document wrongdoing in newspapers and emails, keeping copies of the confessions, prosecutors said in an indictment.

When Cannick was asked why he used letters which Jane said were written under Kelly’s direction and contained false information as defense exhibits, he told CNN: “Unfortunately, I don’t can’t comment on anything that is evidence or anything related to the trial. “

“Very serious accusations”

About once a year, Kelly would get her group of resident girlfriends together to write letters, Jane said.

“He wanted us to include letters saying that we had stolen money from him, that we had stolen watches from him, that we had been assaulted by family members, that we had been mistreated and neglected by members of the family. family and so on, ”Jane said. .

After writing the letters, one of the girlfriends would examine them, checking that the letters were not “too similar” and making sure that what they signed at the bottom of their letters matched the signature on their letters. identification, said Jane.

As Jane sat in the witness stand during Kelly’s trial, Cannick had her read several of the letters to the jury. A letter was addressed to Kelly.

“I’m going to tell everyone that you raped me,” Jane read in a letter. “I’m going to say you’ve raped me since I was a minor.”

Another letter signed by her stated that she would “spank herself” hard enough to leave bruises in order to accuse Kelly of abuse.

Jane testified that Kelly asked her to write these letters and that their contents were false. She also testified that Kelly actually spanked her regularly, sometimes leaving bruises or torn skin.

Assistant US Attorney Elizabeth Geddes asked Jane if it was fair to say the letters were written “to protect him in a trial like this from very serious charges?”

“That’s right,” Jane said.

Another witness, Jerhonda Pace, who testified on August 18 and said Kelly sexually assaulted her when she was 16, said Kelly also made her write a letter saying she stole 100 from her. $ 000 in jewelry, which she said was bogus. .

Nxivm founder Keith Raniere to pay 21 victims a total of $ 3.46 million in restitution

“He told me, whatever I do, don’t write the date on it,” Pace said.

Defense lawyer Nicole Blank Becker called Pace a “self-proclaimed liar” during her opening statements, telling jurors “her credibility will be an issue.”

A witness who testified under the pseudonym “Louis” said Kelly sexually assaulted him after meeting him through a McDonald’s window when he was a 17-year-old high school student. Louis explained in his testimony how he and the singer remained friends for years, and that in 2018 Kelly asked him to write a letter “to protect me and him.”

Louis testified that Kelly asked him to write a letter claiming he had been approached by people trying to pay him to pretend he was having sex with Kelly, which Louis said did not happen. product.

“I thought it was something to protect us so that the encounters we had in the past would never be revealed,” Louis said.

Another witness, Faith, who met Kelly in 2017 and had a nearly year-long relationship with him, said Kelly asked her if she would help him “protect” him.

“He needed me to write something about my family that I didn’t want anyone to know,” Faith said, adding that she ultimately didn’t write the letter.

Apologies

Kelly, whom defense attorneys have repeatedly claimed to be illiterate, appears to have an affinity for letters, both in her private life, as testimony shows, and publicly in her music.

Her 2010 album, “Love Letters”, features a song of the same name and lyrics that say:

“Though near or far, I’ll find a way to send my love
Just pray that it doesn’t come back to the sender. “

Witnesses said if Kelly was angry with them, he would ask them to write letters of apology to him.

Jane testified that sometimes if she broke one of “Rob’s rules” – which she said was to not tell her other girlfriends at home about their relationship with the singer, and not to talking or looking at other men – Kelly would tell him to stay in a room and write him a letter.

“I would just give him the sheet of paper and sometimes he would have me read it in front of him, or he would leave with it and then come back another time,” she testified.

Suzette Mayweather, who has known Kelly as a friend since 1994 and worked for him as an assistant from 2015 to 2017, testified that the singer often made her write letters of apology if she did something that bothered him. .

Once, she said, she had to write a letter of apology to Kelly for not changing the radio to another station as requested by one of her girlfriends. Another time it was for calling him a liar. On another occasion, she said she was paid $ 500 in salary for having a conversation with one of her girlfriends about her and being asked to write a letter of apology.

“I just wrote, ‘I’m sorry. I’ll never have a conversation with any of your guests,'” she said.


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