A former backup performer for R. Kelly testified that she saw Mr. Kelly engaging in a sex act with the R&B singer Aaliyah around 1993 when Aaliyah was only 13 or 14 years old.
The woman, who testified under only the name Angela, told jurors at Mr. Kelly’s criminal trial in Brooklyn that she was performing with Mr. Kelly on tour when she went to visit the singer on his tour bus.
But as she began to open the door, Angela said, she saw Mr. Kelly, who was in his mid-20s at the time, and Aaliyah “in a sexual situation,” she told jurors. Aaliyah was seated in a chair, she said, and Mr. Kelly was kneeling and appeared to be performing a sex act on the girl.
Angela “closed the door abruptly,” she said, and never spoke with Mr. Kelly about what she saw.
The testimony came on the 15th day of Mr. Kelly’s trial, during which six accusers, including Angela, have said that Mr. Kelly had sex with them while they were underage.
But Angela’s account stood apart from others: Aaliyah, whom Mr Kelly married illegally in 1994, is the youngest girl that the singer has been accused of sexually abusing. And Angela became the first accuser to testify that she had seen the two engaged in sexual acts. Aaliyah, whose full name was Aaliyah Dana Haughton, died in a plane crash in 2001.
Mr. Kelly, 54, faces one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating the Mann Act, which prohibits transporting people across state lines for the purpose of prostitution. He has denied the accusations and pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.
Also on Monday, a second male accuser testified against Mr Kelly. The witness, identified only as Alex, said Mr. Kelly groomed him for sex beginning when he was 16. He said that they began having sex when he was 20, and said that from 2007 to 2019 he was “brainwashed” by the singer.
Aaliyah, who was one of the most celebrated music stars of the 1990s, has been a significant focus of Mr. Kelly’s trial. The marriage of the two singers, using falsified documents when Aaliyah was 15 and Mr. Kelly was 27, prompted the first significant scrutiny of his encounters with underage girls.