R. Kelly defense rests after lengthy testimony
CHICAGO — For the better part of two days, R. Kelly’s former business manager — and co-defendant — testified that he had no reason to believe the early accusations of sexual misconduct leveled against the R&B superstar.
Derrel McDavid, who for Kelly for more than 20 years as the singer’s accountant and business manager, said the lawyers and investigators who he hired told him that the allegations against Kelly were untrue and that they’d prove it. Kelly was later acquitted of child pornography charges in Cook County in 2008, six years after he was charged.
On Friday — McDavid’s third consecutive day on the witness stand in the four-week-long trial — federal prosecutors sought to show McDavid was too close to Kelly and too involved in his affairs to claim ignorance of Kelly’s sexual impropriety. Beyond that, prosecutors said, McDavid had a financial interest in protecting Kelly’s reputation and image.
“It was about protecting your boss and protecting your pocket, right?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeannice Appenteng asked.
“No, ma’am, it was not about protecting my pocket,” said McDavid, who testified he was paid 10% of Kelly’s gross income.
Each of the three defendants rested after McDavid finished testifying around 3:20 p.m. Closing arguments are expected to be delivered Monday, with jury deliberations starting immediately after.
Throughout his time on the witness stand, McDavid repeatedly pointed to advice he received about Kelly’s prior case from attorneys Ed Genson, Gerald Margolis and private investigator John “Jack” Palladino. Each of them, McDavid said, told him that the allegations against Kelly were bogus.
Genson, Margolis and Palladino are among several key figures in the case who died before the trial began.
“You’re the only one left to describe what was said,” Appenteng said.
“No,” McDavid replied.
McDavid also pointed out that “Jane,” Kelly’s former “goddaughter,” and her parents constantly denied that it was “Jane” seen on video engaging in sex acts with Kelly. “Jane” didn’t testify in Kelly’s 2008 trial, but last month took the stand and said — for the first time publicly — that she was the 14-year-old girl in the video.
Appenteng noted that McDavid was named as a defendant in two lawsuits filed against Kelly by two women who testified in the trial that Kelly engaged in sexual activity with them while they were minors. McDavid said he did not remember those lawsuits, which were handled by the attorneys he hired on Kelly’s behalf.
At the conclusion of his direct testimony on Thursday, McDavid’s attorney Beau Brindley asked him about the testimony he’s heard in this case, where several women have testified that they had sexual relationships with Kelly while they were minors.
“How can you justify your belief in 2008 that Mr. Kelly should be exonerated?” Brindley asked.
“I’ve learned a lot of things that I had no idea about in 2008,” McDavid replied. “Before this trial, all I knew is what I knew then, that ‘Jane’ was innocent and so was Mr. Kelly. As I stand here today, I’m embarrassed.”
A federal grand jury in Chicago indicted Kelly on 13 counts in July 2019, accusing him of producing and receiving child pornography, while also enticing minors to engage in illegal sexual activity.
McDavid and Brown are charged with one count of conspiracy to receive child pornography. McDavid also faces two counts of receiving child pornography and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice related to Kelly’s 2008 child pornography trial in Cook County.
Prosecutors allege Kelly and those in his inner circle paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years in an effort to track down video tapes that Kelly made that allegedly show him engaging in sexual activity with underage victims.
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