Following a recent round of allegations involving R. Kelly trapping young women in a "cult"-like atmosphere, a woman is speaking out about her own alleged underage sexual relationship with the star.
In an interview with Buzzfeed News, Jerhonda Pace described her relationship with Kelly which she says began when she was 16, breaking a previously-signed nondisclosure agreement in order to tell her story.
“If I can speak out and I can help them get out of that situation, that’s what I will do,” Pace said, referring to the women whose families told Buzzfeed they're living with Kelly in abusive situations.
“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.”
“I just really hope I can help these women out,” she said. “Kelly needs to be stopped.”
Pace, now 24, says she first met Kelly as a 15-year-old fan from Chicago who attended his 2008 trial. After meeting the artist outside the courthouse, Pace says the two began a sexual relationship in 2009 when Pace was 16. She told Buzzfeed that Kelly knew her age at the time, and instructed her to tell "anyone who asked that she was 19, and act like she was 25."
Pace said she ended her relationship with Kelly in 2010 after he caught her texting a friend, claiming, “I was slapped and I was choked and I was spit on" by the star.
After their final encounter, Pace contacted Chicago attorney Susan E. Loggans, who had previously negotiated settlements between Kelly and other young women. Pace accepted a settlement in exchange for signing a nondisclosure agreement and declining to pursue any other claims against Kelly, according to documents Pace provided to Buzzfeed.
Pace's story comes the month after an initial Buzzfeed News report that interviewed families whose daughters became involved with Kelly, alleging that the singer lures impressionable young women into his inner circle, moves them into his homes and cuts them off from their families.
Pace's account corroborates many details in Buzzfeed's original report about the conditions under which Kelly holds his sexual partners. According to Pace, when she began spending weekends with Kelly in his suburban Illinois mansion, she had to follow Kelly’s “rules,” including wearing baggy clothes and asking permission to shower, eat, use the bathroom and leave the house, risking physical punishment if she didn't comply.
“I know speaking out against Kelly, Kelly could sue me. But I’m really not worried about it anymore,” she said. "I feel like this is a healing process for me, because I've been holding this in for so many years, and to see that he always gets away with it, it’s just not right."