In July, R. Kelly was accused of keeping women against their will and forcing them to follow every one of his rules or face physical punishment. On Tuesday, one of his alleged victims spoke out to BuzzFeed News. Few of the women who were in the “cult” have come forward because they reportedly signed nondisclosure agreements in exchange for settlement money, but 24-year-old Jerhonda Pace has decided to crack everything wide open.
Now married with children, Pace opened up to Buzzfeed News about living with Kelly in 2009 when she was 15 years old and was Jerhonda Johnson. She said she was a big fan of the singer and went to the courthouse daily in 2008 as Kelly stood trial for allegedly producing child pornography, saying she wanted to know what happened.
Pace said she skipped school to attend the trial and defended Kelly after he was found not guilty. She said she lied about her age when speaking to reporters, saying that she was 18 because Cook County sheriff’s officers did not allow anyone under 18 into the trial.
In 2009, Pace said a friend and employee of Kelly friended her on MySpace and invited her to a party at Kelly’s mansion in Illinois. She began spending weekends with him. The relationship eventually turned sexual and she said that he often had her dress up like a schoolgirl and wear her hair in pigtails.
Pace said that she was forced to follow strict rules, “which included dressing in baggy clothes, turning over her phone, and asking permission to shower, eat, go to the bathroom, and leave the property. If she broke the rules, she says, she was mentally and physically abused,” BuzzFeed News reported.
Pace eventually ended her relationship with Kelly in January 2010. She sued him, but then decided to settle.
“If I was to get criminal charges, it would probably be like it was last time, where he wouldn’t get convicted,” she told BuzzFeed News. Kelly settled with her out of court in 2010 and asked her to sign a nondisclosure agreement in exchange for the large sum of money. She said she has only been paid part of the settlement money. Pace said later on she signed a new settlement agreement with Kelly. She was paid as recently as July 2015.
Kelly has routinely denied any allegations of sexual abuse. The singer’s represenatives issued a statement Tuesday denying Pace’s claims, saying, “The allegations against Mr. Kelly are false, and are being made by individuals known to be dishonest. It is clear these continuing stories are the result of the effort of those with personal agendas who are working in concert to interfere with and damage his career. Mr. Kelly again denies any and all wrong doing and is taking appropriate legal action to protect himself from ongoing defamation.”
Pace said she is speaking out for the other women she claims are still living with Kelly. She is considering pressing criminal charges against him.
“If I can speak out and I can help them get out of that situation, that’s what I will do,” Pace said. “I didn’t have anybody to speak up on my behalf when I was going through what I was going through with him.”
“I know speaking out against Kelly, Kelly could sue me,” she said. “But I’m really not worried about it anymore.”