Friday, the last day of R. Kelly’s Brooklyn federal racketeering trial’s fifth week, featured testimony from a woman who alleged the R&B star threatened her as a way to ensure he had her support during an impending lawsuit against him.
Per Vulture, Cheryl Mack met Kelly in 2005 when she worked as a talent manager. While at a Miami restaurant with a client, Mack was approached by a man who introduced them to Kelly after she told him that her client could sing. After an impromptu audition, Mack said Kelly offered to “help” them and gave her his phone number.
Eventually, Mack and her client were invited to Kelly’s home studio in Olympia Fields, Illinois and the client sang with Kelly on one of his albums. This led to Mack introducing more clients to the singer, which included a 17-year-old from Atlanta known as “Precious” in 2009.
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“I had a discussion with him about her talent. ‘She [is] talented, would you be interested in meeting her?’ He agreed.” Mack, Precious, and the teen’s mom traveled from Atlanta to Chicago, as Kelly had agreed to let them use one of the studios at his Olympia Fields home. One of Kelly’s associates paid for their trip. Precious ended up returning to Chicago and stayed at a hotel near Kelly’s house, Mack said.
Prosecutors asked Mack whether Precious stopped working for Kelly and whether it was an “abrupt” split. “Yes,” Mack said.
“Did you speak to the defendant about why Precious had left?” prosecutors asked.
“It was all sudden. He told me that I need[ed] to come to Chicago,” she said. “Everything happened so fast. He told me that she was trying to file a lawsuit and I needed to pick a team.”
Mack said that when she arrived at Kelly’s home back in Olympia Fields, he explained that Precious is suing him and again told her that she needed to “pick a team.” At one point, Kelly allegedly told Mack that “Generally, in these situations, people come up missing,” which said told prosecutors that she took as a threat.
Mack learned that the suit was “something along the lines of sexual harassment.” They ultimately moved their discussion into a room at Kelly’s home with a pool table. After some time, Kelly’s former studio manager, Tom Arnold, directed Mack to a car. She got in but didn’t know where they were going. Arnold drove her to the office of Kelly’s then-attorney, Ed Gensen.
There was an affidavit on the table, which they asked her to sign. She said she barely glanced at the questions, but remembered one was “Did I ever see Mr. Kelly give [Precious] alcohol?”, and another was “Did I ever see them [having] sex].” Mack didn’t remember whether she circled “yes” or “no” to the questions on the affidavit, but said she did sign it. After she signed the paperwork, Arnold took her to the airport.
Mack didn’t see Kelly again until 2013 after her boss at the time, talent manager Devyne Stephens, wanted her agency to try and revitalize his career. Kelly became Mack’s primary client through the agency, and eventually, she was hired on as his executive assistant. During that period of her career, Mack was responsible for coordinating travel or Kelly, his entourage and many of his girlfriends. She said that she witnessed an interaction between Kelly and Jane,” who has accused him of first sexually abusing her when she was 17.
In July 2015, after his concert at a Connecticut casino, Mack said that she, Kelly’s stylist Kash Howard, and Jane were in Kelly’s dressing room with him. She saw Jane sidle up to Kelly, who was reclining on an ottoman. “I just saw her move in closer.”
“That was kind of my cue to leave,” she said.
Mack said she saw Jane move her head down. When asked by the judge whether this was near Kelly’s lap, Mack said, “In that area.”
“That was my exit. I was very uncomfortable, that wasn’t my business.”
BuzzFeed News reports that Mack said she quit after an incident at McDonald’s with Kelly and his entourage. She said the singer suddenly accused her of “spoiling” a surprise birthday gift for his stylist, and was enraged to the point of cursing at her and pounding the table.
“I just had enough,” she said. “And in that moment, I quit.”
According to BuzzFeed News, federal prosecutors are believed to be nearing the end of their case against Kelly–who has denied all wrongdoing.