CHICAGO — R. Kelly’s been facing a litany of witnesses identifying the girl prosecutors say is on the sex tape at the heart of his child-pornography trial — mostly her relatives and childhood and family friends . But on Tuesday (May 27) the singer faced off with someone a little closer to home: his former personal assistant, who told the court she was “110 percent” certain it was both Kelly and the underage girl on the tape.
Lindsey Perryman, who worked for Kelly on and off from 1999 to 2006, sang the singer’s praises at first, telling the court he was a great boss who helped her get better jobs whenever she grew dissatisfied with her work hours (she wanted something more 9-to-5, she said). “I think so highly of Mr. Kelly and his family,” she testified.
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So she paid little heed to the rumors and reports that Kelly allegedly had taped sex with an underage girl, even though she knew the girl in question. In fact, Perryman had seen the girl bring “a pillow and an overnight bag with her” when she visited the singer at his studio. And as Perryman’s job duties grew from being an intern to a receptionist to the office manager at his studio to Kelly’s personal assistant, she increasingly helped bring the two together — picking up the girl from school and bringing her to the studio, where she would do her homework, or taking her to Kelly’s home in Olympia Fields. Still, she didn’t suspect anything was untoward.
“I had never seen him be inappropriate with anyone, and he had never been inappropriate with me,” Perryman said. “There’s never been any reason to walk away.”
But when asked to by the state’s attorney’s office last winter, Perryman watched the video, which she had been avoiding: “I didn’t want to think it was them.” But she testified that in her opinion it was. “The image that I saw looked like [the girl],” Perryman said. “She has distinct cheekbones, and the way she moves her mouth, the way she smiles, it’s all very distinctive. The image I saw looked exactly like her. [And] it sounded exactly like her.”
As for Kelly, Perryman said she was equally sure, claiming that the singer looked on the tape like he did when she first met him in the summer of 1999. Upon viewing the tape, “I was shocked,” she said. “I was disturbed. I didn’t want to see any of this.”
Perryman also testified that she had seen another woman, Lisa Van Allen, visit Kelly in the studio, setting the stage for Wednesday’s expected testimony that this second woman also had knowledge about sexual relations between Kelly and the girl in question. Van Allen is alleged to have participated in threesomes with the pair.
Among the other witnesses on Tuesday was Raven Gengler, another childhood friend, who was close with the girl in question in junior high and said it was “absolutely” her. Family friend Tjada Burnett, who was best friends with the girl’s aunt Charlotte, testified she thought it was the girl based on her face and haircut.
Cousin Bennie Edwards Jr., who was in a kid’s pop group with several of his cousins, including the girl, testified that he thought the image on the tape “favored” his cousin. Edwards, a musician who now plays bass with Lionel Richie, stopped short of making a positive ID, however. “It wasn’t her, was it?” Kelly defense attorney Ed Genson asked on cross examination. “It looks like her,” Edwards replied.