A woman who says she met with and starting sleeping with famed music legend, R. Kelly, at just 16 has come forward to tell her story.
In 2008, Jerhonda Johnson was a sophomore in high school. In an exclusive interview with Buzzfeed, she told the news outlet how she would cut class daily to attend R. Kelly’s trial on 14 counts of creating child pornography. She was a strong supporter of his and provided quotes in national media stories defending him.
Now, as a 24-year-old married mother of three, Jerhonda Pace disclosed that after the trial, she became one of many woman affected by a sexual relationship with Kelly. She reportedly accepted cash settlements from the “Ignition” singer in exchange for signing nondisclosure agreements, and while the funds bought her silence up until now, her pain is speaking loud and clear.
Several people who say they have firsthand knowledge of Pace’s dealings with Kelly have backed up her claims. Buzzfeed also reviewed legal documents, drafts of settlements signed by both Kelly and Pace, as well as correspondence between her and the attorneys involved. A polygraph test was also performed at the request of her attorney regarding her relationship with Kelly, according to the news outlet, and there’s a probate court document opening an estate for Pace as part of the civil settlement’s terms.
In a statement issued early Tuesday, representatives for Kelly denied the allegations.
“The allegations against Mr. Kelly are false, and are being made by individuals known to be dishonest. It is clear these continuing stories are the result of the effort of those with personal agendas who are working in concert to interfere with and damage his career. Mr. Kelly again denies any and all wrong doing and is taking appropriate legal action to protect himself from ongoing defamation.”
Pace, who is the fourth person to come forward with such allegations against the singer, told the news outlet that Kelly mentally and physically abuses the women closest to him. In 2005, Kelly’s then-wife, Andrea Lee, filed for an order of protection against him, alleging that he had slapped and hit her. She later dropped the order.
Pace’s story is different from previous accounts because she was underage when she and Kelly entered a sexual relationship. While still teens, the other women were at least 18 years of age when they allegedly started engaging in sexual acts with Kelly. By coming forward, she is breaking a nondisclosure agreement out of concern for the women who are still living with Kelly in what police and their family members have deemed a “cult.”
Pace says she’s worried about a friend who she introduced to Kelly when they were teenagers who is still part of Kelly’s circle.
“If I can speak out and I can help them get out of that situation, that’s what I will do,” Pace says. “I didn’t have anybody to speak up on my behalf when I was going through what I was going through with him. He’s brainwashed them really bad, and it kind of reminds me of Charles Manson.”