R. Kelly's Longtime Assistant Makes Surprise Claim on Star's Alleged Sexual Abuse

R. Kelly's criminal trial in Brooklyn remains underway. The disgraced R&B singer is charged with several sex crimes, including sex trafficking and abuse of minors. Kelly has pleaded not guilty but testimony from over a dozen accusers alleges otherwise. One person who gave a conflicting report of Kelly being an abuser is his former executive assistant, Diana Copeland. Copeland worked for Kelly for a total of 16 years and says though she saw some of Kelly's behavior as controlling, she never witnessed any abuse.

As far as testimony that Kelly had handlers to recruit women for him, Copeland says that's hard for her to believe. She also told Good Morning America's Michael Strahan that due to Kelly's popularity, that wasn't necessary. "He never asked me, but at the time...he was R. Kelly, a mega superstar," she said. "He needed no help to recruit women, or to get women."

Several of Kelly's former girlfriends have testified that Kelly would lock them in rooms and not allow them access to food or water if they did not abide by the singer's long list of rules. Some of the rules they claim Kelly enacted included them referring to him as "daddy," not making eye contact or having interactions with other men, and requesting to use the bathroom and eat.

But Copeland insists she never saw any woman held against their will. "When this case came up, I was reading women were locked up and kidnapped. That's not what I'm seeing. I'm not seeing anyone trying to leave. Every woman that left walked right out the door," Copeland told Strahan. 

"He would have live-in girlfriends; they had their own rooms," she continued. "In those properties, there was like, a certain decorum. That was expected. "Nobody is able to roam. As far as like in their room, I don't know that they had to ask permission to leave."


But Copeland did admit in court that Kelly's girlfriends were not able to make contact with men or interact with them. She recounted one incident where she left his girlfriend in an elevator by mistake. The woman was turned to the wall after another man walked in. As a result, she did not see Copeland leave. Copeland told Strahan that sometimes during outings, Kelly's girlfriends would as if she could interact with men on their behalf.

When asked whether or not she missed any signs that Kelly was an abuser, she says she only saw Kelly as a "family man" and a "businessman." She also told Strahan that her responsibilities for Kelly ended "at the threshold of his bedroom door."