On Sept. 27 R.Kelly’s decade-long sex trafficking trial came to an end.
The singer was found guilty on all nine counts including one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating the Mann Act, CNN reported. Now a few of the star’s victims are speaking out following the tumultuous case.
Jerhonda Pace, who was the first woman to testify against the Grammy-award-winning artist, took to Instagram following the verdict writing, “Today, my voice was heard.”
Pace continued in the caption:
“Today the jury found R. Kelly guilty. For years, I was trolled for speaking out about the abuse that I suffered at the hands of that predator. People called me a liar and said I had no proof. Some even said I was speaking out for money. Speaking out about abuse is not easy, especially when your abuser is high-profile. However, I DID IT. Me speaking out caused a domino effect and so many people came forward. There are still some people that haven’t came forward. I’m so grateful to be a voice for those who didn’t have the courage.”
The 28-year-old accused the R&B icon of holding her captive at his house in Olympia Fields as he repeatedly had sex with her while she was underage. Pace alleged at one point, Kelly even physically choked her after she failed to acknowledge him while walking into the room. She was 16-years-old during the time of the incident. According to her attorney Maria Cruz Melendez, Kelly made Pace sign a letter stating that she stole from him to use as collateral and claimed that the singer often filmed their sexual interactions. They were together for six months before she was able to escape from Kelly’s abuse.
Gloria Allred, an attorney representing three other victims of Kelly, released a statement on behalf of a woman who identified as “Sonja” in court. She told CNN that she’s thankful that the jury made the right decision after listening to her chilling testimony.
“I’ve been hiding from Robert Kelly in fear due to threats made against me and I’m ready to start living my life free from fear and to start the healing process,” the statement read, according to Allred. “Thank you for shining a light and helping me to get out from under that rock that I stayed under for far too long.”
“If you’ve been in a similar situation, I urge you to come forward as well,” she continued. “It will be like a weight lifted off of your shoulders.”
Sonja flew to Salt Lake City in 2003, to interview the star for her radio internship. What she thought would become a “kick start” to her career turned into a harrowing experience. The then 21-year-old said she was locked in a studio room for days without food or water. She accused Kelly of allegedly drugging and raping her while she was unconscious.
“There was some wet stuff in between my legs and on my thighs,” Sonja recalled of her physical state after waking up, adding that she saw her underwear laying on the couch as Kelly appeared to be “doing up his pants in the corner.”
“I know my body. I know when something is wrong,” Sonja testified earlier this month. “It felt like something had been inside of me.”
The racketeering acts related to Sonja’s testimony were ones that the jury found were not proven.
Kitti Jones, a former Dallas radio DJ, also spoke out following the milestone case.
“We got justice today,” Jones said in a statement to The Daily Beast.
“I wouldn’t say I now have closure because in the end none of us will get our time back. But this is a small victory.”
Jones detailed her abusive relationship with the “Bump n’ Grind” crooner in her book titled “I Was Somebody Before This.” The successful author spent two years with Kelly, even giving up her career to be with the star amid his sexual abuse allegations.
“I allowed myself a few hours to get my tears out today—and now I am just celebrating this win. But we have a long way to go, this isn’t over,” Jones added.
The 54-year-old artist is now facing 10 years to life in prison, however, his attorneys are considering filing an appeal. Kelly’s sentence hearing in New York City is scheduled for May 4, 2022.
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