R. Kelly didn't pay his doctor for decades-long STD treatment and instead flew him around the country for parties and concerts

·5 min read
  • A Northwestern Medical School faculty member was a doctor and friend to R. Kelly for 25 years.

  • He testified he began treating Kelly for STDs as early as 1994, occasionally making house calls.

  • McGrath, who also partied with Kelly, said he prescribed herpes medicine as early as 2007. 

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A doctor who is a faculty member at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine was called to the stand Thursday to testify about his 25-year social and professional relationship with R&B artist, R. Kelly.

Dr. Kris G. McGrath, who testified that he last saw Kelly socially before the singer's 2019 arrest on sex-crime charges, was questioned about his experience treating Kelly for sexually transmitted diseases.

Prosecutors in Kelly's New York trial allege that he engaged in unprotected sex with two partners without first informing them he had contracted herpes, and obtaining their consent under those circumstances. These allegations fall under 10 of the charges Kelly faces in federal court.

How McGrath came to know R. Kelly

McGrath said he first met Kelly through Darryl McDavid, a patient of his who also worked as an accountant for the singer, in January 1994.

Kelly had a "concern about chlamydia," McGrath wrote in notes from his visits with the singer. The notes were entered into the court record and shown on screen in the courtroom Thursday. According to McGrath's notes, Kelly also complained of pain in his genitals. McGrath ordered a test for chlamydia, which came back negative, and another for gonorrhea, which turned out positive.

McGrath testified he instructed Kelly to practice safe sex and inform his sexual partners about the diagnosis. He also said he wanted to order additional tests, but that Kelly turned them down "for privacy reasons."

The prosecution showed records of another appointment with McGrath on June 5, 2000. Kelly complained of pain and blisters on his genitals. He said he wore leather pants without underwear for a photoshoot, according to McGrath's notes. McGrath believed the irritation could be from either herpes, which had symptoms consistent with what Kelly was experiencing, or some kind of irritation from dye chemicals in the leather pants.

A herpes culture test came back negative, McGrath said, but he testified that the timing of the test meant that he still couldn't rule out a herpes diagnosis.

r kelly trial court illustration jerhonda pace
Jerhonda Pace, who is pregnant, takes the oath as singer R. Kelly attends Brooklyn's Federal District Court during the start of his trial in New York, U.S., August 18, 2021 in a courtroom sketch. REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

McGrath later diagnosed Kelly with herpes after he complained of recurrent lesions, and saw that Kelly was responding well to Valtrex, a drug used to treat the virus.

"Over time, the patient had complaints about the bumps, and the treatment worked," McGrath said.

As McGrath recalled on the stand, Kelly said, "I should not put it in raw, I should put a hood on it." To which McGrath testified he responded, "Yes, you should put on a condom."

One document showed McGrath had prescribed Kelly herpes medication dating back to at least March 2007, nearly two years before one of his accusers, Jerhonda Pace, said she began having sex with him when she was 16 years old.

McGrath testified that Kelly or his employees would frequently call him to place orders for "the blue pills," which he called the herpes medication.

Sometimes Kelly would visit his office, but McGrath also made house calls to Kelly's home in Olympia Fields, Illinois, and studios in Chicago, he said.

The herpes prescriptions were sent for Kelly to pick up at what McGrath described as the "Rock & Roll Walgreens," a pharmacy located next to the famed Rock & Roll McDonald's in Chicago, McGrath testified. 

Prosecutor Maria Cruz Melendez, in her opening statement, said Kelly recruited at least one minor for sex at that fast-food chain.

Pace, the first of Kelly's accusers to take the stand, testified Wednesday that she met Kelly when she was 14 in April 2008 and began having sex with him at his home in May 2009, when she was 16.

Pace said she started to develop sores on her vagina while having sex with Kelly. The singer called his doctor to his home, and he examined the minor while Kelly was in the room, confirming that the sores were herpes, Pace testified.

Pace testified that she ended her sexual relationship with Kelly in January 2010 after Kelly slapped her, choked her, and spit in her face during a disagreement. She used her T-shirt to wipe his spit and semen from her face before going home to tell her mother what had happened, she said. 

Partying with his doctor

McGrath testified Kelly had health insurance, but never paid him for his medical services during the decades he treated him.

He would, however, invite him and his wife to parties, dinners, and pay for his flights to concerts around the country, McGrath testified. 

The doctor flew to Kelly's concerts in New York, Missouri, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Nashville, he told the jury. Sometimes Kelly would pay for the travel and other times McGrath would book it himself. They also attended cigar bars together and McGrath traveled to the singer's studios to listen to Kelly perform music.

McGrath said his wife, Jean, also had a relationship with Kelly, which he described as "caring." McGrath remains a faculty professor at the Feinberg School of Medicine and a board-certified doctor, he said. 

Representatives at the Feinberg School of Medicine didn't immediately offer comment on McGrath's testimony.

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