Earlier this summer, news broke that legendary R&B singer R. Kelly was holding several young women against their will. The parents of the women, who range in age from 18-31, said that Kelly was operating a “cult,” according to BuzzFeed News. Interviews with three women who formerly worked closely with the singer, including his former personal assistant, corroborated the claims made by the parents. The “babies,” as they say Kelly calls the women, are kept in a “guest house” and required to address him as “daddy.” They’re forced to ask him permission to do mundane things.
Now, BuzzFeed news has a new report chronicling the claims of a 24-year-old woman who says she was an R. Kelly “superfan” as a teenager. Jerhonda Johnson, as a 15-year-old living in a Chicago suburb, would cut school to attend each day of Kelly’s trial in 2008 on charges that he produced child pornography. She was even quoted in news stories at the time defending him after he was acquitted. She’s married now and goes by the name Jerhonda Pace.
By the time she was 16, Pace says, she found herself entangled in a sexual relationship with the singer that lasted for seven months, and during which Kelly videotaped the two having sex without asking her permission. After their first sexual encounter, she says he coerced her not to tell anyone about it by forcing her to “write out and sign letters stating that she had stolen jewelry and cash from him and that her parents had set her up to blackmail him.”
“At the time, I didn’t know what I liked, honestly,” Pace explained about agreeing to sign such a statement. “I just knew that I liked his music, so I was pretty much accepting of anything that came with him at the time.”
The age of consent in Illinois is 17. Eventually, she told Kelly that she was underage and he was unfazed by the news. Instead, he continued to subject her to mental and physical abuse, she told BuzzFeed News. The physical abuse had particularly when she broke the singer’s strict “rules.”
Eventually, she was given a settlement to keep the details of their relationship a secret and she had to sign a nondisclosure agreement in order to get the money.
In a statement, Kelly’s camp denied the allegations against the singer, who throughout the years has faced a slew of similar accusations. “The allegations against Mr. Kelly are false, and are being made by individuals known to be dishonest,” the statement said. “It is clear these continuing stories are the result of the effort of those with personal agendas who are working in concert to interfere with and damage his career. Mr. Kelly again denies any and all wrongdoing and is taking appropriate legal action to protect himself from ongoing defamation.”
For Pace, however, the ordeal is all too real, and she explained why speaking out now was so important to her — despite the fact that Kelly could sue her for breaking the nondisclosure agreement.
Read the full story at BuzzFeed News.