|Kristen Zeis for BuzzFeed News|
Ever since recent reports of R. Kelly running a “sex cult” for teens, there has been a renewed conversation around the R&B singer and ephebophilia.
This time, 24 year-old old Jerhonda Pace spoke with BuzzFeed News contributor, Jim DeRogatis to finally come forward with her own story. DeRogatis actually first released the initial cult report, as well. After being a longtime fan and supporter of R. Kelly, Pace is finally speaking out against the singer, alleging that she was involved in an abusive sexual relationship with Kelly.
She first met R. Kelly at the age of 15, when she attended his 2008 child pornography trial to support the singer. Pace claims that soon after — following a party at his Chicago suburb house when she was 16 years old — she began an eight-month sexual relationship with him in 2009. Pace is currently married and was then known as Jerhonda Johnson.
The age of consent in Illinois is 17 years old and Pace alleges that she told Kelly she was 16, to which the singer demanded that she claim to be 19 years old.
During the eight month stint, Pace claims that she endured both emotional and physical abuse from Kelly. She also claims that he was very controlling about the way she dressed, when she could bathe, and who she contacted via phone, which mirrors other claims associated with the cult allegations.
Everything came to a head in January 2010 when Kelly caught Pace texting a friend of hers without his permission, which reportedly ended in abusive results. “I was slapped and I was choked and I was spit on,” said Pace.
At the time, Pace decided not to press charges since she felt the chances of him being convicted after being acquitted in the 2008 child pornography child were very slim to none. Pace signed a nondisclosure agreement and settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.
However, Pace is now breaking the NDA and risking a legal suit for the bigger picture: she wants to help other women who she claims have also been “brainwashed” by the singer.
“If I can speak out and I can help them get out of that situation, that’s what I will do,” Pace noted.
“I didn’t have anybody to speak up on my behalf when I was going through what I was going through with him,” she added. “I just really hope I can help these women out. Kelly needs to be stopped.”
In response to Pace’s claims, R. Kelly’s representative recently released a statement to BuzzFeed. “The allegations against Mr. Kelly are false, and are being made by individuals known to be dishonest,” per the statement. “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.”