The fourth week of R. Kelly’s New York criminal trial—the first of several scheduled across numerous states, including Kelly’s native Illinois as well as Minnesota, brought new and disturbing allegations to the fore, as witness testimonies bolstered the prosecution’s case against Kelly for multiple charges, including sex trafficking and racketeering. As The Root reported Friday morning, Kelly’s eighth and ninth accusers took the stand on Thursday, recounting incidents of abuse, imprisonment, exploitation, and, in the case of one accuser, rape.
The trial resumes Monday morning, but as Insider reports, on Friday, a longtime assistant of Kelly’s corroborated the account of at least one of those witnesses, a former live-in girlfriend identified only as “Anna” when she took the stand. Diana Copeland, who was in Kelly’s employ from from 2004 to 2018, testified Kelly was upset with her for allowing Anna to “escape” his Georgia home after an argument.
“Another coworker had called him and said I let Anna escape,” she told prosecutors, recalling that Kelly took her to a park in Chicago to confront her about it several days later.
“Copeland said in her testimony that Kelly’s use of the word ‘escape’ made her upset because at the time there were ‘words swirling in the media’ about his treatment of women,” Insider reports, adding that Kelly was “disappointed” with Copeland for not preventing Anna from leaving, telling her she should’ve let another assistant “handle it.”
Nevertheless, as Kelly’s executive assistant, Copeland’s own complicity has been called into question during the ongoing trial, as “[s]everal witnesses, including some of Kelly’s accusers, have testified that Copeland was the one they would have to contact if they needed to use a restroom or book travel to see the artist,” Insider reports. Copeland did not dispute this, instead confirming that these were among her “duties” in the role, which also included taking Kelly’s girlfriends shopping or to get manicures.
During those outings, “she noticed the girlfriends would not interact with men other than Kelly—who they called ‘daddy’—and go as far as turning away from a male salesperson,” she testified, Insider reports. While Copeland often intervened to speak to men on behalf of the women, she also recounted an incident in which she was docked pay after making an appointment at a nail salon that turned out to have a male employee.
“Kelly didn’t want the women to visit businesses or ride in Ubers with men,” she testified, according to Insider.
Furthermore, “[Copeland] said that while she worked for him women stayed in his various homes, offices, and studios, but were confined to the rooms they were assigned to.”
“They were not free to roam the house,” she said.
Copeland’s testimony continues on Monday.
If you or someone you know have experienced sexual assault or abuse, the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE (4673) or RAINN.org offers 24-hour, confidential support.