For anyone who thinks R. Kelly was “railroaded” at his recent racketeering and sex trafficking trial, victim Faith Rodgers wants you to consider this:
She wasn’t even alive when the marriage certificate showing R. Kelly had wed 15-year-old singer Aaliyah in 1994 was first unearthed by Vibe magazine that same year.
The certificate falsely listed Aaliyah’s age as 18.
“I wasn’t even born yet when that happened. This isn’t something that people didn’t know about,” Rodgers tells Rolling Stone in an exclusive interview Friday in some of her first comments since Kelly’s recent conviction in his racketeering and sex trafficking case.
“This is somebody that everybody knew about. The industry, entertainers, a lot of people, and nobody put a stop to it, or tried to, until now,” she said. “It took a group of millennials to make it happen, which is crazy,” she said.
Rodgers, 24, testified at Kelly’s trial in Brooklyn Federal Court before a jury took about nine hours to convict the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer on all counts.
She called it “upsetting” to face him again in person and witness his “arrogant” demeanor in the courtroom, which included the singer moving his fingers like he was playing a piano when some of his music played as evidence.
“I know he was trying to deflect. Like if he could have shouted, ‘Shut up!’ he would (have). There were even times when he would just put his head down and shake. …My dad said he was very uncomfortable,” she recalls.
“It just reminded me, yeah, you know, it’s what you did,” she adds. “I think it hurt him to see me speaking. He hadn’t seen me since I was 19. You see somebody four years later, and they’re against you, it’s different.”
Rodgers spoke Friday alongside her lawyer, Gloria Allred, who represented three of the five victims who testified at Kelly’s trial. Rodgers and Allred held a press conference together earlier in the day in Los Angeles in her first public appearance since the verdict. They said claims from people including Bill Cosby’s spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, that Kelly was “railroaded” are unfounded. “R. Kelly was not ‘railroaded.’ He was convicted based on the evidence,” Allred said in a statement.
In her testimony, Rodgers recounted to jurors the horrific details of Kelly’s abuse, previously revealed in her 2018 lawsuit against the disgraced R&B star. She says Kelly demeaned and violated her during a roughly yearlong relationship, forcing sex on her, routinely locking her in rooms and vehicles as “punishment” for “failing to please” him, demanding she call him “daddy” and knowingly infecting her with a sexually transmitted disease.
She first met the Grammy winner at a 2017 concert in San Antonio, and two months later, he flew her to New York to attend another show. She says he forced her into “non-permissive, painful and abusive sex” and recorded unauthorized images that he weaponized against her.
When she decided to speak out, Kelly allegedly sent her lawyer a threatening letter. “He really didn’t want me to talk, but even through all that, it just gave me more drive to keep going. Once all my cards are on the table, there’s nothing you can really do to me,” she said at the press conference Friday. “The stress of it all, it caused me anxiety, all types of medical problems … It’s hard going up against people’s favorite.” Rodgers says she decided to “press forward” so the next young woman targeted by Kelly could “be aware.”
Kelly, 54, is due to be sentenced in May by the same federal judge who oversaw his trial. He faces 10 years to life in prison. Rodgers said she’s not sure if she’ll attend the sentencing, but she hopes Kelly will show “some remorse and accountability.”