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R. Kelly trial: prosecution rests after fourth accuser testifies singer sexually abusing her as a girl

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Prosecutors rest case in R. Kelly's federal trial in Chicago
Prosecutors rest case in R. Kelly's federal trial in Chicago 02:28

****WARNING: This story contains details of allegations of sexual abuse of a minor****

Federal prosecutors rested their case Tuesday in R. Kelly's federal trial in Chicago, after a fourth woman took the witness stand to testify the singer sexually abused her when she was a girl.

The woman, going by the pseudonym "Nia" on the stand, said she was only 15 years old when she met Kelly, asking for an autograph in a mall in Atlanta, testifying she told Kelly she was 15 on a phone call after meeting him at a mall in Atlanta.

Nia later detailed two sexual encounters with Kelly in 1996; one at a hotel during his concert tour in Minnesota, and another later the same year at his music studio in Chicago.

She said Kelly, knowing she was 15 at the time, invited her to meet him on his concert tour in Minnesota, and had his staff arrange travel from Atlanta. Nia said she told her mom she was staying at friend's that weekend.

Nia told the jury that Kelly met her in her hotel room the morning after that concert, kissing her once on the lips, telling her to take off her clothes and walk towards him, proceeding to touch and kiss her breasts. She said he masturbated before leaving.

The second incident was at Kelly's music studio, when she spent the following summer with family in Chicago.

She said she brought her cousins with her to the studio -- including one who later testified she was there to protect Nia – but during a brief amount of time Nia was alone with Kelly, said he kissed and groped her.

In cross-examination, Kelly's attorney asked Nia about a lawsuit she filed against Kelly in 2002, and settled out of court for $500,000. Nia said she reached a private attorney in Chicago and expressed interest in being a witness for the prosecution in his pending child pornography case at that time, but ended up with a lawsuit of her own.

Nia confirmed, when asked by defense attorney Jennifer Bonjean, that she never called the Cook County State's Attorney's Office to offer to testify in that case. Kelly later was acquitted of those charges, and is now accused of rigging that trial by paying off and intimidating witnesses.

Jurors heard from more than two dozen witnesses for the prosecution over the past two weeks. Prosecutors said, in their opening statements, the jury would hear from five Kelly accusers, but the government rested its case after calling only four of those women to the stand – the pivotal witness "Jane," "Pauline," "Tracy," and "Nia."

Defense attorneys will begin presenting their case on Thursday. The judge said closing arguments could begin by the middle of next week.

Kelly, 55, is on trial on a 13-count indictment, including child pornography and obstruction of justice charges. Kelly's former business manager Derrel McDavid and former assistant Milton "June" Brown are being tried alongside him, accused of scheming with Kelly to buy back incriminating sex tapes to help cover up his sex crimes and rig his 2008 child pornography trial in Cook County, at which Kelly was acquitted.  

Read more details on Tuesday's testimony below


Ex-wife of Nia's cousin testifies about visit to R. Kelly's studio in Chicago

Sheryl Ware, the ex-wife of Nia's cousin, was called to the stand before prosecutors rested their case Tuesday, confirming Nia's account that she spent the summer with relatives in Chicago in 1996.

Ware testified Nia was 15 that summer, and that three of Nia's cousins went with her to Kelly's studio, where they spent several hours.

According to Ware, R. Kelly came out and spoke to them while they were at the studio, and asked if Nia was going to leave with them to go to a bar or restaurant near Navy Pier, but they told Kelly they could all stay and he offered to buy them food while they hung out at the studio.

Ware testified Kelly then took them to the back of the studio, where they could see an artist later recording music, as Kelly was going back and forth from the room.

Ware also recalled Kelly and Nia being alone for about 5 minutes, after which Nia did not tell her anything happened.

By Tara Molina

Prosecutors call only 4 of 5 accusers during trial

Federal prosecutors had said in opening statements that jurors would hear from five women accusing Kelly of sexually abusing them when they were girls, but the government rested its case after calling only four of those women to the stand.

Prosecutors did not explain why the fifth accuser was not called to testify.

After the prosecution rested its case, U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber gave jurors the day off on Wednesday, with testimony set to resume on Thursday when the defense begins presenting its case.

Leinenweber said he expects closing arguments by the middle of next week.

By Tara Molina

Kelly's defense attorney questions Nia about travel arrangements

R. Kelly's lead defense attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, largely focused her cross-examination on Nia's claims Kelly arranged for her to travel to Minnesota to see him in concert.

Bonjean asked Nia where the phone number Kelly gave her went to, and Nia said she wasn't sure if it was a cell phone, but that Kelly would answer whenever she called, even while he was on tour.

Asked about the tickets she said Kelly gave her for the concert, Nia testified she didn't know the details, but she understood they were on a list at will call. Nia also told Bonjean she could Google the concert and date "because it's 2002," adding she doesn't remember the exact date of the concert, though she denied Googling the concert herself.

Bonjean also questioned Nia about how she was able to fly to Minnesota without her parents or ID, and Nia testified she was given a "password" or "code" to give to the person at the counter, and was able to board the flight. The flight would have happened years before more restrictive security measures were put in place at airports in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

Nia also testified she was able to check in to the hotel Kelly had arranged for her without ID by just giving her name at check-in.  

As for the limo that picked her up at her mom's apartment to take her to the airport for the flight to Minnesota, Nia told Bonjean her mother wasn't suspicious, because she was gone for work already, and she had told her mom she would be spending the weekend with a trusted friend, so her mom didn't think anything of her being gone.

When Bonjean suggested Nia didn't tell Kelly before the trip that she was only 15, Nia maintained she told Kelly before traveling to see him.

Asked if she told Kelly she had to be "sneaky," Nia told Bonjean she never talked to him about hiding anything from her mom. Nia testified she told her brother the truth when he saw the limo that came to pick her up, but her brother didn't tell their mom.

Bonjean asked Nia how much time passed between the concert and her trip to Chicago, and Nia said she didn't remember the specific dates, just that it was the summer of 1996. Nia also confirmed Kelly didn't arrange for her travel to Chicago, because she was staying with family.

Turning to her visit to Kelly's studio, Nia told Bonjean her cousins thought Kelly was too old for her, and wanted to protect her, so they went along with her to the studio. Nia testified her cousins were also fans of the singer, and thought it was cool to visit his studio.

Asked if her cousins tried to prevent her from seeing Kelly one-on-one, Nia testified she didn't tell them about anything that happened, and she didn't come back looking "displaced," so they didn't ask her if anything happened when she was alone with Kelly.

As for Nia's lawsuit against Kelly, Nia told Bonjean she wanted to be a witness in the child pornography case against Kelly in 2002 (charges for which he later was acquitted in 2008), but Nia acknowledged she didn't contact the Cook County State's Attorney's office, rather calling private attorney Susan Loggans to offer help in the investigation against Kelly. Loggans has represented multiple women who have sued R. Kelly for sexual misconduct, and negotiated settlements for those clients over the years.

By Tara Molina

Prosecution rests its case

Federal prosecutors rested their case early Tuesday afternoon, after calling four of the five accusers that were expected to take the stand.

Defense attorneys will begin presenting their case Thursday at 10 a.m.

By Tara Molina

"Nia," fourth Kelly accuser, testifies about sexual encounter at singer's music studio

"Nia," the fourth woman to take the stand at R. Kelly's federal trial to accuse him of sexually abusing her when she was a girl, testified she first met Kelly in 1996 at a mall in Atlanta, when she was 15 years old.

Nia testified she asked Kelly for his autograph, and the singer gave her his phone number. Later, in phone conversations within weeks of their meeting, Nia told Kelly she was 15, and the singer started making plans for her to see him on his concert tour in Minnesota, she testified.

Kelly's team arranged for Nia to go to the concert in Minnesota within months of their meeting, but Nia testified she did not tell her mother anything.

Nia testified a limo picked her up at her mom's apartment, and stopped at a gas station, where she got a "single rose" for Kelly, and took her to the airport to fly to Minnesota. From the airport in Minnesota, she was dropped off at a hotel before taking a van to the concert, where she went to her seat. Later, someone brought her backstage, and told her Kelly would contact her later, and she went back to the hotel, according to Nia.

She said Kelly called her hotel room the morning after the concert, and met her there. Nia testified she asked Kelly for a picture with him, but Kelly said they could take the picture another time.

According to Nia, Kelly told her to take off her clothes, and after she did, they kissed, and Kelly touched her and masturbated. She testified he also asked if she was a virgin, and she said she was, and he asked if she would come to Chicago, and she said she would. Kelly then cleaned himself off and left in a "rush" before Nia could give him the rose, or get a picture with him, she said.

Afterward, Nia testified, she arranged to spend the summer of 1996 with relatives in Chicago.

While in Chicago, Nia testified she saw Kelly only once, at his music studio, while she was still 15 years old, and she brought her cousins along. They all hung out with Kelly, but Nia testified Kelli told her he thought she was coming alone.

Nia testified she and her cousins spent the night hanging out in a waiting area, where a couple other guys flirted with  her cousins, while Kelly was recording in his studio.

At one point that night, according to Nia, she and Kelly saw each other one-on-one after a security guard came to get her from the waiting room. While they were together, Kelly greeted her with a hug and a kiss, and they made out, and Kelly put his hands into her pants and groped her, she testified.

Nia said she didn't tell her cousins about what happened, because she was embarrassed, because they had come with her to prevent anything from happening.

Nia testified she called Kelly several times that summer after their encounter at the studio, but he never called back. She said she also once saw Kelly years later, while she was pursuing a modeling career, and he was on a music video shoot, but he did not acknowledge her.

She filed a lawsuit against Kelly in 2002 over that underage sexual encounter, and it was settled out of court for $500,000.

By Tara Molina
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