Jerhonda Johnson was just 15 years old during R. Kelly‘s child pornography trial, but she skipped high school every day to attend the trial and show off her status as his biggest fan.
Now married with the name of Jerhonda Pace and three children of her own, she told Buzzfeed News that she began a sexual relationship with Kelly at the age of sixteen and has since been the victim of a silencing campaign filled with payouts and nondisclosure agreements.
However, Pace said she was breaking the agreements by speaking out about her situation, saying that she was concerned about the other women that are still living with Kelly, including a friend that she brought into Kelly’s circle when they were young.
“If I can speak out and I can help them get out of that situation, that’s what I will do,” Pace said. “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 added. “Kelly needs to be stopped.”
Pace explained how, when she was 15, she attended Kelly’s child pornography trial and said watching the video of Kelly with a 14-year-old girl was “disturbing” but that she wasn’t convinced because the girl herself didn’t step forward. At the time, she was interviewed by reporters and was quoted as celebrating his acquittal, but she lied about her age at the time. She was reported as being 18, because no one underage was allowed at the trial.
She said that Kelly gave her his autograph when he was walking into court, and then, when she was 16, she lied to her parents in order to sneak off to a party that he had invited her to attend. She claimed to have lied about her age at the time, saying she was 19. After that point, Kelly invited her back again and had her strip down and walk around like a model. They then engaged in oral sex, and Pace said that he bought her silence by having her sign papers saying that she had stolen from him and that her parents had sent her to blackmail him.
She said that he got her drunk on her next visit. She wasn’t used to alcohol, and she was a virgin, which she said Kelly thought was exciting when they had intercourse during that visit.
After that, for seven months, they had repeated sexual encounters: “I had to call him ‘daddy,’ and he would call me ‘baby.’ He wanted me to have two pigtails, and I had to go out and find little schoolgirl outfits.”
She told him in July of 2009 that she was sixteen, but he continued his relationship with her. Pace then described a situation similar to that described by other women, in which she had to ask for permission to eat, shower, or use the bathroom.
Pace ended the relationship at last after Kelly got mad at her for texting a friend: “I was slapped and I was choked and I was spit on.”
The next day, she contacted the attorney offices of Susan E. Loggans, who negotiated a large settlement from Kelly for her, because she thought that Kelly would not be convicted if she tried for criminal charges, as had happened in the 2008 case. As part of that, she signed a nondisclosure agreement.
However, despite the threat of legal action against her, Pace felt that she had to speak out when she heard the stories of women similar to her own were being ignored.
“I know speaking out against Kelly, Kelly could sue me. But I’m really not worried about it anymore,” Pace explained. “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. I’m just going forward with my head held high.”