At the New York R. Kelly racketeering and sexual abuse trial Thursday, a woman testified that, after approaching R. Kelly for an interview, the singer locked her in his studio for several days and raped her, The New York Times reports.
The woman, identified as Sonja, said the alleged incident took place in 2003 at Kelly’s home studio in Chicago known as the Chocolate Factory. Prior to her testimony Thursday, August 9th, Sonja had not publicly shared her accusations against Kelly.
Kelly has denied all accusations against him. He has also pleaded not guilty to the charges he faces of racketeering, violations of the Mann Act — which prohibits the transport of people across state lines for sexual activity — and sex-related charges in Minnesota.
During her testimony, Sonja said she met Kelly at a mall in Utah in August 2003; at the time, she was 21 and working as an intern at a local radio station, and she hoped an interview with Kelly — her “first huge celebrity interview” — would boost her career. Sonja claimed that Kelly, after declining to speak with her at the mall or over the phone, said that she should visit him instead in Chicago. Kelly’s associates, Sonja said, arranged and paid for her flight.
Upon arriving in Chicago, Sonja said she was put off by Kelly’s associates who allegedly photocopied her ID and took down the numbers and contact information of several friends and relatives. One associate, Sonja said, even asked her if she needed a condom, to which Sonja said she replied, “No, I’m not here for that.”
After arriving at Kelly’s home studio, Sonja said she was given a list of rules, including that she needed to ask permission to eat or go to the bathroom. She was then allegedly locked in the room for several days. When she requested a meal, Sonja said, she was brought takeout Chinese food, but after just a few bites, she claimed she got “extremely full” and tired. When she woke, Sonja said she saw Kelly putting on his pants, realized her underwear had been removed, and said she felt like “something had been inside” of her.
Sonja said that one of Kelly’s associates later told her that the singer would not have time for an interview. Sonja said the associate also allegedly threatened her: “He said you can’t tell anybody,” she recalled. “He had my address. The address to where my daughter was at.”
Because she had not previously accused Kelly publicly, lawyers for the singer argued that Sonja had fabricated her story during their cross-examination. Sonja denied these claims, saying, “I was sexually assaulted. There was something in me that was something I had not invited.”