A music writer who has spent decades raising awareness about sexual misconduct allegations against R Kelly will not be required to testify in the R&B singer’s federal trial on child pornography and trial-fixing charges, a judge ruled on Wednesday .
Lawyers for Jim DeRogatis, who published the book in 2019 Soulless: The Case Against R Kellyinvoked legal protections for the press in a filing Tuesday asking U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber to overturn a defense subpoena that DeRogatis is testifying this week.
DeRogatis was a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times in the early 2000s, when he anonymously received a videotape he gave to police that was central to Kelly’s 2008 child pornography trial in state court. Prosecutors now allege Kelly paid the girl in that tape not to testify at that trial, in which he was acquitted.
Lawyers for former Kelly business manager Derrel McDavid, who along with Kelly is charged with conspiring to rig this lawsuit, subpoenaed DeRogatis to testify. McDavid’s attorney, Beau Brindley, told the judge on Wednesday that his only question for DeRogatis would be whether the physical video DeRogatis received two decades ago is the same one recorded as evidence in the current trial.
Kelly’s lawyers could also have questioned DeRogatis.
The defense has previously raised questions about who manipulated the video evidence against Kelly, whether the footage was originals or copies, and whether the videos could have been tampered with. Knowing the chain of custody of evidence is essential to establishing its authenticity.
But Leinenweber said the authenticity of the video evidence had been established, including through testimony from investigators who received footage of DeRogatis and Kelly’s accusers, who appeared in videos the prosecutor claimed the star of the R&B had recorded.
“I see no reason to call Mr. DeRogatis,” said the judge, who told the public radio show co-host Sound Opinions that he could leave the courtroom.
Kelly also faces charges of inciting sex with minors. McDavid and Kelly also face pornography charges.
Kelly, who is known for his resounding success I believe i can fly and for sex-infused songs such as Bump and Grindsold millions of albums even after abuse allegations began circulating in the 1990s. Widespread outrage only emerged after the #MeToo reckoning and 2019 docuseries Surviving R Kelly.
Prosecutors in the federal trial in Kelly’s hometown rested last week, and the defense could conclude by the end of this week. This trial follows a separate federal trial in New York, where Kelly, 55, was sentenced to 30 years in June.
DeRogatis spoke at Kelly’s 2008 state trial but declined to answer questions, citing an Illinois law that protects the rights of journalists, as well as the rights of the free press from the US Constitution. and the right against self-incrimination.