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R. Kelly's former assistant describes what she witnessed working in his homes, denies women were held captive

r-kelly” target=”_blank”>R. Kelly< in New York is coming to a close.

Diana Copeland was Kelly’s executive assistant on-and-off for 16 years. Speaking on “Good Morning America” on Friday, Copeland described the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer’s personality and the things she witnessed within his properties, where he’s been accused of grooming and sexually exploiting young victims.

“He’s charismatic and I think that’s one of the reasons why people kind of say he has two personalities. When you meet him, he’s a really personable person. If you see him angry, that’s a whole different person,” Copeland said.

She confirmed Kelly did have “live-in girlfriends” and spoke to some of the expectations he had for them and guests.


“He would have live-in girlfriends. They had their own rooms. Guests would just come maybe sit in the studio with him. He had three properties. In those properties there was a certain decorum that was expected. He pretty much didn’t want not just the girls to move around but he didn’t want anybody to be able to just  roam his house like a museum.”

There were times Copeland joined the girls on shopping trips. She confirmed she did witness their hesitancy to speak to male staffers.

R. Kelly's sex trafficking trial is expected to resume on Friday.

R. Kelly’s sex trafficking trial is expected to resume on Friday.
(Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP, File)

“They asked me during the trial ‘did you notice their reaction with males?’ and I did. They didn’t want to speak to the males. In fact, sometimes they would ask me to interact with the males,” Copeland said.

She added that she “could not speak to” whether or not Kelly set a rule for the women to avoid other men in public “because I don’t know if they were told.”

“But I would say that you could pretty much surmise that was the case,” she said.

Copeland was also asked about one girlfriend who once refused to use the bathroom because she didn’t have permission from Kelly. Copeland said she’s unaware if this meant the woman was afraid of him.

“There are certain rules that are put in place for safety because when he gets out of the vehicle he’s highly recognizable. So now whoever gets out of that vehicle there’s a spotlight, a target, on that person,” Copeland added.


Asked if any of these actions taken by Kelly’s girlfriends “raised an alarm” for Copeland, the former assistant said she knew the musician as “the family man, the businessman.”

“But his personal life is Robert’s personal life so my job stopped at the threshold of his bedroom door,” she said.

R. Kelly appears during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago on September 17, 2019. 

R. Kelly appears during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago on September 17, 2019. 
(Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Copeland went on to say that she did not witness anyone held captive for days and that Kelly’s partners consisted of “no one under 18.”

“In fact, when this case came up, I’m reading that women are locked up and kidnapped and things of that nature and that’s not what I’m seeing. I’m not seeing anybody that’s trying to leave or any locked doors. Every woman that’s left has walked right out the door,” she said.

A civil suit against Kelly that Copeland is named in is still in court. It claims Copeland stood outside of the door while he was in a bedroom with the accuser. She and Kelly have denied the claims.

Copeland added that Kelly did not need any assistance when it came to finding women.


“There were women always coming at him…He’s never asked me but at the time I’m only saying that he was R. Kelly. He was a mega superstar. He needed absolutely no help to recruit women or to get women.”

Looking back at her job over the 16 years she worked for Kelly, Copeland says she wouldn’t have done things differently.

 “I don’t think that anything that I did was wrong and I also don’t think that anything that I could have done would change what Robert did. I can only change Diana.”

On Wednesday, prosecutors played recordings for a New York City jury they say back up allegations the singer abused women and girls.


Prosecutors, nearing the end of their case at the crime events, played recordings for a New York City jury Wednesday they say back up allegations the singer abused women and girls.

Kelly, 54, has repeatedly denied accusations that behind the scenes of a 30-year career highlighted he was a sexual predator who groomed and sexually exploited his young victims. His lawyers have portrayed the accusers as groupies seeking to take advantage of his fame.

The trial resumes Friday, when it’s likely the government will rest its case. Kelly’s lawyers have indicated they will put on a defense case that would begin Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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