The female minor featured with R. Kelly in the videotape at the center of his previous child-pornography charges, who declined to testify against him in 2008, is cooperating with federal investigators on new charges, her lawyer, Christopher L. Brown, told the New York Times.
The tape, which was shown at Kelly’s 2008 child-pornography trial, allegedly features Kelly engaging in sex acts and urinating upon the woman, who was 14 at the time. While multiple witnesses identified both Kelly and the woman, who is mentioned many times in Lifetime’s “Surviving R. Kelly” docuseries and Jim DeRogatis’ years of reporting on the case, both she and her family declined to testify. Jurors at the time said her refusal to cooperate was a key factor in their decision to acquit him.
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Attorney Michael Avenatti said earlier this week that Kelly had paid the woman’s family $2 million not to testify, a claim Brown refuted; a similar claim is made in the federal indictments against Kelly.
On Tuesday Kelly, who was hit Friday with a total of 18 counts of serious sexual misconduct and other charges, was ordered to be held without bond at a hearing in federal court in Chicago. The singer entered a not-guilty plea.
The extent to which the woman — who is the estranged niece of former Kelly protégé Stephanie Edwards, also know as Sparkle — is cooperating with authorities is unclear. People in Kelly’s circle interviewed in “Surviving R. Kelly” claim to have seen the woman on the singer’s property multiple times in recent years.
Late Tuesday, Edwards told the Times she was elated at the news. “I’m beyond pleased to finally hear the mountain I’ve tirelessly worked on moving over the years is now being assisted with the help of my niece and her parents!” she said in a statement. “Of course I’m in full unwavering support of them and their act of courage!”
The multiple current charges against the singer claim that he had victimized 12 women, at least eight of whom were underage at the time.