- A former R. Kelly assistant testified that the singer took steps to make a sexual harassment lawsuit go away.
- “Generally around these situations, people come up missing,” she quoted the singer as saying.
- At the time, Cheryl Mack managed a 17-year-old singer who worked with Kelly. She later became Kelly’s assistant.
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R. Kelly threatened that people go “missing” after a 17-year-old girl planned to file a lawsuit against him, according to a former assistant.
The assistant, Cheryl Mack, testified Friday in Kelly’s sex crimes trial that she had a professional relationship with the singer over two different time periods.
The first started in 2005, when Mack was a talent manager and scout who occasionally talked to Kelly about collaborating with various singers and songwriters who she represented. Mack later worked as an assistant for Kelly in 2014, after helping develop his 2013 “Black Panties” tour.
Mack said Kelly’s threat came after one of her clients – a 17-year-old girl who prosecutors identified in court only as “Precious” – worked with Kelly around 2009. Precious was an R&B and rap singer, and Mack believed a collaboration with Kelly would be fruitful for both of them.
Kelly arranged for Precious to work on music in the studios he maintained at his home in the Chicago suburb of Olympia Fields, while Precious lived at a hotel nearby with her mother.
Mack testified that at some point, she heard Precious had stopped working with Kelly. Kelly summoned Mack to his Olympia Fields home, where she testified that he told her Precious was “trying to file a lawsuit” against him that would be “related to sexual harassment.”
Kelly told Mack to “pick a team,” she said, recalling that Kelly said it was a sensitive time for him because he would soon perform at the 2010 World Cup.
“‘Generally around these situations, people come up missing,'” Mack quoted Kelly as telling her.
Mack testified she “took it as a threat,” and that Kelly was telling her to choose “either Team Precious or Team Kelly.”
Following that conversation, Mack said Ed Jensen, a lawyer for Kelly, presented her with a prewritten affidavit. She signed the document without reading the entire thing, although she recalled that part of the affidavit said she had never seen Kelly give anyone alcohol or direct them to perform sex.
Mack then flew home to Atlanta. She said she didn’t speak to Kelly or Precious after signing the document, but later heard that Precious’ legal claim against Kelly was “resolved.”
Working for R. Kelly’s ‘enterprise’
Mack entered a professional relationship with Kelly a second time, in 2013, when she worked as an executive assistant for Devyne Stephens, a music industry mogul in Atlanta, as they developed the “Black Panties” tour and album. Mack then moved over to Kelly’s payroll to work with him personally.
Several accusers in Kelly’s trial – most of whom were under the age of 18 when they said Kelly had sex with them – have described how Mack arranged their travel and collected their birth dates to book plane tickets.
Prosecutors have accused Kelly, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, of sexually abusing women. Part of the indictment also describes how Kelly led an illegal enterprise in which he directed his employees to recruit women for him to abuse. Mack testified that, while working for Kelly, he established a company called “RSK Enterprises.”
Kelly has denied all the charges against him.
Mack is expected to be the final witness who had direct contact with Kelly to testify before the prosecution rests its case later Friday. Kelly’s defense attorneys are expected to call their own witnesses beginning on Monday.
Mack corroborated much of the testimony from other witnesses about Kelly’s bizarre rules for his young “girlfriends.” The women were required to receive his permission to leave rooms, weren’t supposed to chat with his employees, and could not look at men, she said.
Mack said she quit working for Kelly in 2015, while she, Kelly, and other members of their entourage were eating at a McDonald’s in Connecticut. She said Kelly suddenly exploded in anger during that conversation. He pounded the table and falsely accused her of spoiling a birthday surprise for his personal stylist, she said.
“He started cursing at me and [said] that I needed to apologize,” she testified.
“I quit,” she added.