Chicago, Ill.— Defense teams in R. Kelly’s federal trial at Dirksen’s U.S. courthouse rested on Friday after three days of testimony from the disgraced singer’s former business manager and co-defendant.
On Friday, the third day of Derrel McDavid’s appearance, he was cross-examined by the government as the trial wrapped up its fourth week. CPA turned business manager McDavid has insisted he totally believes the disgraced singer’s claims that he never engaged in sexual acts with minors while they worked together from the early 90s until in 2014 throughout his testimony.
Kelly faces multiple charges of coercing five minors into sex acts and multiple charges related to the production of child pornography. His co-defendant McDavid is charged with one count of conspiracy to receive child pornography, two counts of receiving child pornography and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice. (The latter charge was related to Kelly’s 2008 child pornography trial, which centered on a Jane Doe, with the videotape being the focus of the ongoing trial.) Kelly’s former employee Brown is also accused of receiving of child pornography as part of an alleged effort to recover the missing. tapes that allegedly show Kelly engaging in sexual acts with minors. All three men have pleaded not guilty.
Throughout McDavid’s testimony on Wednesday and Thursday, he continued to claim that the prosecution witnesses were extortionists and liars. Lisa Van Allen, a key government witness, testified that she took video showing her, Kelly and her underage goddaughter and star prosecution witness “Jane” from Kelly’s collection. Known as Video 4 in the indictment, it was not shown at trial. The prosecution claims this is part of Kelly’s successful cover-up of events, while the defense argues Jane was never in the video.
McDavid backed up the latter claim, portraying Van Allen and prosecution witness Keith Murrell as people in Kelly’s orbit looking for a payday, as the attorney repeated when it comes to of a superstar. McDavid said they secured the missing tape of Van Allen and Murrell after he paid each of them, and that the tape featured Van Allen, Kelly, and Kelly’s wife. It’s a claim that McDavid’s and Kelly’s legal teams made at different points in the trial.
On Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeannice Appenteng worked to establish that McDavid was instead a major player in a scheme to compensate Kelly’s alleged victims and that his claims of ignorance were unfounded after more than 20 years of collaboration close with the singer. Appenteng pointed out that the four men McDavid hired to protect the star from those he claimed were after “money” are all dead – attorneys Ed Genson, Gerald Margolis and attorney-turned-private investigator Jack Palladino , alongside Jane’s father.
“Only you can describe what was said” at that time, Appenteng asked. McDavid replied, “No.” McDavid’s attorney on the redirection pointed out that one of the attorneys at the time, John Touhy, is still alive. However, solicitor-client privilege would likely prevent him from testifying.
The prosecution also noted that McDavid had financial motivations for wanting to keep secret any alleged sexual improprieties in which Kelly was allegedly involved. McDavid earned 10% commissions during Kelly’s height of fame, which totaled millions of dollars during that time.
“It was about protecting your boss and protecting your pocket,” Appenteng said.
“No, ma’am,” McDavid refuted. “It wasn’t about my pocket.”
The current charges against McDavid hinge on his involvement as the entertainer faced state child pornography charges related to the 2008 trial in which Kelly was acquitted (jurors have since declared Jane’s refusal to testify in 2008 – the alleged 14-year-old girl depicted in a central videotape of that case and the ongoing case – contributed to the acquittal Jane has since identified herself on tapes of the ongoing trial, excerpts of which were shown in court to the jury).
Throughout his testimony, McDavid maintained his suspicions that as Kelly’s star rose, more people were looking to get the singer’s money and that belief grew in February 2002, he said. – he says, when two major incidents happened on the same day: he got a call from Kelly’s ex-manager, Barry Hankerson, who told him he had a tape of Kelly and his goddaughter Jane in a trio, then-Chicago Sun-Times reporter Jim DeRogatis reaches out to say he has anonymously received a tape showing Kelly and Jane in sex acts.
The news came days before Kelly was due to perform at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, a fact McDavid claimed was no coincidence. He further claimed that Hankerson’s hatred for Kelly was a motivation. McDavid thought the tapes were fake at the time and noted in his testimony that Jane and her parents repeatedly denied she was involved with Kelly and denied it was her on video until the pending trial. .
But McDavid changed his tune as he wrapped up his second day of testimony Thursday. Asked where he stood with his 2008 conviction when he argued that his former boss was exonerated from what was presented as the ongoing trial unfolded, McDavid said he had learned a lot over the past three weeks. “As I stand here today, I’m embarrassed, sad.” His claim was met with objections from Kelly’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, as well as the prosecution.
Yet on Friday, McDavid was adamant he was unaware of Kelly’s alleged sexual encounters with underage girls during the more than two decades they worked together. When Appenteng mentioned that Tracy and Nia, who both sued Kelly on underage sex charges that were settled and paid for by McDavid on Kelly’s behalf in 2002, he said he couldn’t recall the details of either suit, even if Nia’s suit named him as a defendant.
The trial is expected to resume with closing arguments on Monday, followed by jury deliberations.