CHICAGO – A former girlfriend of R. Kelly wept on the witness stand Thursday as she testified that a Kelly business manager told her in 2007 she should have been killed for causing the R&B star so much trouble by stealing a video from a gym bag full of recordings of Kelly having sex with women and girls.
Prosecution witness Lisa Van Allen said she rummaged through the bag on a rare occasion when Kelly left it unattended at a studio one day in 2000. She said she then watched the videos one after the other on a VHS player. She took one that, among other footage, showed Van Allen, Kelly and a younger girl who testified against Kelly last week under the pseudonym, “Jane,” having sex.
Van Allen, 42, is the only witness so far to have testified both at Kelly’s ongoing federal trial as well as at his 2008 state child pornography trial, at which Kelly was acquitted.
Kelly, who rose from poverty on Chicago’s South Side to become a superstar singer, faces charges in his hometown of child pornography and enticement of minors for sex. The 55-year-old and co-defendant Derrel McDavid, the former business manager, are also charged with rigging the 2008 trial by threatening witnesses and concealing video evidence.
Kelly was handed a 30-year prison sentence by a federal judge in New York in June for convictions on racketeering and sex trafficking charges. If convicted in U.S. District Court in Chicago, he could see years added to that sentence.
Van Allen, crying and reaching for tissues during her testimony Wednesday, said it was McDavid who told her in 2007 at a Chicago lawyer’s office that a polygraph had indicated she wasn't truthful about the video she handed back. Kelly and his insiders were worried Van Allen had made other copies.
“He said that I failed (the lie-detector), and that they should have murked me from the beginning,” she testified, using a slang word for killed. She said she took the comment as a threat.
Van Allen sounded shaken, too, while recalling McDavid’s response to her when she told him she was going to tell Kelly about McDavid's threat.
“He said (Kelly) knew everything that was going on,” she said.
Kelly's 2008 trial revolved a around a different video that state prosecutors said showed Kelly abusing the girl called Jane at the Chicago federal trial. After acquitting Kelly in 2008, jurors said they had no choice because the girl did not take the witness stand at that trial. Last week, Jane did testify that she was the child in the video and Kelly was the adult man. The evidence at the current trial includes several videos.
Van Allen, who said she began a nine-year relationship with Kelly in 1998 when she was 18, said Kelly was obsessed with control, prohibiting her from speaking to other men and other men from speaking to her. She told jurors Kelly would sometimes hit her because, as she put it, “I wouldn’t listen to daddy.”
She testified she only learned after Kelly filmed himself having sex with Van Allen and Jane that Jane had only been 14 at that time.
Asked by a prosecutor how she felt as she viewed the videos at the studio in 2000, Van Allen responded, “Disgusted.” She also recalled being nervous Kelly might walk back into the room at any moment, knowing he’d be furious if he saw what she was doing.
The same video she took from Kelly also had footage of Kelly sexually abusing Jane at two different locations, Van Allen testified. She said she took the tape because she never wanted Kelly or anyone else to see it. She said she decided in 2007 to return the tape she had taken and that, while she insisted she didn’t pressure Kelly for money, he offered to pay $250,000 for it.
In cross examination, a defense attorney for McDavid, Beau Brindley, asked Van Allen that if her goal was to prevent anyone from ever seeing it, why didn’t she simply destroy it in 2000. She answered, “I could have if that crossed my mind.”
Brindley sought to cast doubts about her account that McDavid threatened her. His voice soaring, Brindley asked Van Allen if she was “prepared to admit” that her claim McDavid made a death threat “is a lie?”
“I am not prepared to admit that,” she shot back.
He asked her if she ever had any indication McDavid was “a murderous accountant” prior to their 2007 conversation about the lie-detector test.
“Not until he said they should have murked (killed) me,” she answered.
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