Column: An alleged sexual assault victim may have lied to help acquit R. Kelly in 2008. Her cooperat

R&BsuperstarR.KellyarrivesattheDaleyCentertoattendaclosed-doorhearinginacourtfightwithhisex-wifeoverchildsupportonMarch13,2019,inChicago.(ErinHooley/ChicagoTribune)

R&BsuperstarR.KellyarrivesattheDaleyCentertoattendaclosed-doorhearinginacourtfightwithhisex-wifeoverchildsupportonMarch13,2019,inChicago.(ErinHooley/ChicagoTribune)

Itwasclearfromhistrialin2008thatR.Kellyisabadguy.Itwashardtograsphowajurycouldhaveacquittedhimofchildpornographyafterwatchingthevideotapethatprosecutorssaidshowedhimhavingsexwitha14-year-oldgirl.

Butwhatchoicedidtheyhavewhenthegirlinthevideo,bythena23-year-oldwoman,insisteditwasnother?

Elevenyearsago,theyoungwomaninquestion,Kelly’sgoddaughter,wantednothingtodowithprosecutorswhowereattemptingtoputKellybehindbars.Sherefusedtotestify.Sodidherparents.AndKellywalkedoutoftheChicagocourtroomafreeman.

Now,shehashadachangeofheart.Theattorneyrepresentingthewoman,nowinher30s,saidsheiscooperatingwithfederalauthoritieswhorecentlysecuredtwonewindictmentsagainstKelly,inadditiontothestatechargeshealreadyfacesinIllinois.That’saverybravestepforsomeonetraumatizedsoyoung.

ItwillbeharderforKellytowriggleoutofthisone.The52-year-oldR&Bsingerisbattlingchargesofsexualassault,obstructionofjustice,childpornographyandracketeering.ProsecutorssaidKellysexuallyassaulted12women,atleasteightofwhomwereunderageatthetimeandsomeasyoungasseventhandeighthgraders.

Whoknowswhytheyoungwomanallegedlydepictedinthevideodecidedtocooperatethistime.Wealsodon’tknowtowhatdegreesheiswillingtosupplyprosecutorswitheverythingtheyneedforaconviction.

ButthenewsthatshewillnolongerprotectKellyisencouraging.It’savictoryforeverysurvivorofsexualassaultandforallofuswhowanttoseejusticeservedinthiscase.

InadditiontolayingoutKelly’sallegedpatternofpreyingonyoungwomen,theindictmentsbroughtinChicagoandNewYorkpaintedanotherpicture.ItshowedtowhatlengthsKelly—thenmuchwealthierthanheistoday—allegedlywenttoensurehisacquittalin2008.

Accordingtoprosecutors,Kellykeptaprivatecollectionofvideosofhimhavingsexwithwomenandgirls.Upondiscoveringthatsometapesdepictinghimengagedinsexualactswithaminorweremissing,hespenthundredsofthousandsofdollarsbetween2001and2009togetthemback,theysaid.

Inaddition,prosecutorssaid,Kellyandhiscohortsthreatenedandintimidatedpotentialwitnesses,includingtheyoungwomaninthevideotapeandherparents,tolieforhim.

Healsodidsomethingelse.Foryears,accordingtoprosecutors,hepaidthemoffwithcashandgifts,continuingevenafterthetrialhadended.And,accordingtoprosecutors,thefamilyacceptedthem.

Inearly2002,justmonthsbeforeKellywaschargedwithchildpornographyandarrested,thesingerallegedlysentthefamilyontripsoutofthecountrysothattheywouldnotbeavailabletoinvestigatorsconductingtheprobe.

Kellyallegedlyinstructedtheyoungwomantolietopoliceaboutthesexualencounters,andtolietotheCookCountygrandjury.OneofKelly’sassociatestoldtheyoungwoman’sfatheralsotolietothegrandjury.

Overaperiodof15years,from2000to2015,Kellyandhisassociatesmadepaymentsandboughtgiftsfortheyoungwomanandherparentstoensurethattheycontinuedtosupportthoselies,theindictmentsaid.

It’sunfathomablehowanyamountofmoneycouldenticeaparenttoprotectamanwhomauthoritiessaidpreyedontheirchild.Perhapstheyweretryingtoprotecttheirdaughter.Maybetheyweregreedy.

Buttheyoungwomandeservesourwholeheartedsupport.TheindictmentsuggeststhatKelly’stacticsincludedphysicalabuse,violence,threatsofviolence,blackmailandotherbehaviorstocontrolhisvictims.

Wedon’tknowthedetailsofwhatthisyoungwomanexperiencedoverthecourseofseveralyears.Butwhatwedoknowisdistressingenough.

Imaginetheconfusion,thefeelingofbetrayalandtheunwarrantedshameofa14-year-oldgirlhavingbeenallegedlyrapedbysomeoneshetrusted.Imaginethehumiliationofhavingavideoofthatsexualactmadepublic10yearslater,peddledonthestreetsofChicago,downloadedontheinternetandplayedinopencourt.

Imaginehavingsomehowfoundthestrengthtogetthroughadecade,makeittoage23andbeaskedtorelivethathorribleexperience.Imaginetheturmoilofhavingtoacknowledgepubliclythatthechildinthegrainy,obscenevideoshowingamanurinatingonherisyou.That’saskingalotofavictim.

Perhapsnowthatthewomanisinher30s,shehascometorealizethatnoneofthiswasherfault.Maybesheknowsthatshewasthehelplessvictimofanallegedchildpredator,andwhatevershedidtoprotectherselfinthepastwasanattempttosurvive.

Hopefully,shehasreceivedprofessionalcounselingandhascometotermswiththeawfulexperiencethatlikelydefinedherteenageandmuchofheryoungadultyears.Hopefully,shehasfoundthestrengthtostandupforwhatisrightratherthanallowthishorridepisodetoinfringeuponherfuture.

Asthedetailsofthiscaseunfoldinpubic,there’ssomethingweallshouldremember.Thereisonlyoneallegedcriminalhere.ThatisR.Kelly.

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