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A witness in R. Kelly trial says R&B singer once compared himself to Jerry Lee Lewis

A courtroom sketch of a man in a mask sitting at a table with lawyers
In a courtroom sketch, R.Kelly listens during his trial in New York on Thursday.
(Elizabeth Williams / Associated Press)

R&B star R. Kelly once compared himself to rock legend Jerry Lee Lewis — notorious for marrying his 13-year-old cousin decades ago — saying they were both misunderstood geniuses, a witness at Kelly’s sex-trafficking trial testified Thursday.

The allegation comes a day after another woman testified that R. Kelly forced his girlfriends to write fake blackmail letters that he could use to defend himself in case he got charged with sexually abusing them.

The witness Thursday recounted the Jerry Lee Lewis comment while for the first time publicly accusing Kelly of luring her into having unwanted sex with him in 1999, when she was a struggling 17-year-old hotel worker. She was the third woman to take the witness stand in federal court in Brooklyn to make allegations of sexual abuse.

At one point in the relationship, she said she was at dinner with Kelly when he mentioned that he liked young girls and — “out of the blue” — brought up Lewis.

A woman testified Monday that singer R. Kelly sexually abused her when she was 17 and married the late Aaliyah to sign off on her abortion.

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“ ‘Even look at Jerry Lee Lewis,’ ” she claimed Kelly said. “ ‘He’s a genius and I’m a genius. We should be allowed to do whatever we want. Look at what we give to the world.’ ”

Lewis is credited with helping create rock ‘n’ roll in the 1950s and achieving stardom with hits like “Great Balls of Fire.” But his marriage to his cousin Myra Gale Brown caused a scandal that has dogged him through the rest of his career.

Kelly, 54, has repeatedly denied accusations that he preyed on several alleged victims during a 30-year career highlighted by his 1996 mega hit “I Believe I Can Fly.” His lawyers have portrayed his accusers as groupies who are lying about their relationships with him.

The latest witness, who testified on Thursday using only her first name, described being approached at a McDonald’s in Chicago by one of Kelly’s cronies, who gave her a note asking her to call him. She and Kelly first had sex at a meeting at one of his studios, seen decorated with his platinum albums in photos shown to the jury.

One of R. Kelly’s former employees says the singer lived in a ‘Twilight Zone’ where he called all the shots, including when visitors could leave.

Over time, “he was one of two ways,” she said: “He was either very nice and charming or he was controlling and manipulating.”

Kelly would order her to strip off her clothes and stay frozen in vulnerable sex positions before leaving her alone in the studio, sometimes for hours, she said.

As with the other alleged victims, Kelly also demanded to be called “Daddy” and sometimes would videotape the encounters, she said. That left her feeling that she needed to “stay in good standing with him to see if I could get them back.”

The abuse went on for about six months until she had to end it over feeling “humiliated” and “degraded,” she said.

“That was the lowest time of my life,” she said, through tears. “I have never been treated like that before or since.”

“Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning,” Lifetime’s follow-up to its explosive 2019 docuseries, turns up new allegations of sexual abuse against the singer.

The woman who testified Wednesday read for the jury parts of one letter in which she told Kelly that if he tried to break up with her, “I’m going to tell everyone you raped me. … I’m going to say you raped me since I was a minor.”

Her notes to him also warned that “she would spank herself really hard” — hard enough to leave bruises — so she could accuse him of beating her.

After the defense confronted the witness with the letters, she insisted the abuse was real and that the writings were a ploy engineered by Kelly “to protect him in a trial like this from very serious charges.”

The woman, now 23, had previously detailed how she was groomed and exploited by Kelly starting in 2015 when she was a 17-year-old aspiring singer. The defense sought to discredit her with the letters and other evidence it claims showed her parents were behind a scheme to take advantage of Kelly’s fame.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Elizabeth Geddes responded by giving a point-by-point rundown of her testimony — including allegations that he intentionally isolated and demeaned her with perverted “punishments.” She then asked the witness whether the blame fell “on your parents or the defendant?”

She responded: “The defendant.”


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