Pleadings Conclude, Jury Deliberations Begin Today : NPR


Musician R. Kelly leaves the Daley Center in May 2019 in Chicago after a hearing in his child support case.

Matt Marton/AP

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Matt Marton/AP

Musician R. Kelly leaves the Daley Center in May 2019 in Chicago after a hearing in his child support case.

Matt Marton/AP

R. Kelly’s lead attorney told jurors during oral argument Tuesday that federal prosecutors’ case accusing the singer of producing child pornography, luring minors for sex and rigging his child pornography trial of 2008 is largely based on the testimony of perjurers and blackmailers.

Standing on a podium a few feet in front of the jurors, Jennifer Bonjean noted that many key government witnesses, including some of the women who accused Kelly of sexually abusing them, testified with immunity to ensure they didn’t. would not be accused of lying to the authorities. .

Bonjean said they didn’t come to the courthouse in Chicago, Kelly’s hometown, to tell the blunt truth. “They came here,” she said, “to tell the government’s version of the truth.”

Among other things, she cited Kelly’s ex-girlfriend, Lisa Van Allen, who testified about how she stole a sex tape from a Kelly gym bag in the early 2000s. Bonjean also pointed to the testimony of Kelly’s former merchandising agent Charles Freeman, who told jurors he asked the singer for $1 million in exchange for returning another sex tape that could potentially incriminate the singer. Both testified with immunity.

Bonjean likened their testimony and other evidence to a cockroach and the government’s case to a bowl of soup in which the insect sits.

“You don’t just take the cockroach out and eat the rest of the soup,” she said, noting the prosecution case: “There are just too many cockroaches.”

Bonjean reminded jurors that she told them in her opening statement that the government would rely on “perjurers, blackmailers and extortionists,” and said prosecutors did just that.

On Monday, a prosecutor at his closing told jurors weeks of evidence proved the singer had taken advantage of his fame to sexually abuse minors and recorded the abuse on video.

Kelly faces charges of producing child pornography, inciting sex with underage girls and obstructing justice by rigging his 2008 child pornography trial in state court, in which he was acquitted. Jurors were due to begin deliberations later on Tuesday.

In her conclusion, prosecutor Elizabeth Pozolo described Kelly as a covert sexual predator.

“Robert Kelly abused many girls for many years,” she said, referring to the 55-year-old Grammy winner by his full first name. “He committed horrific crimes against children. … All these years later, the dark side of Robert Kelly has come out.”

Kelly’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, twice called for a mistrial on Monday, complaining that closing arguments by attorneys for Kelly’s co-defendants, Derrell McDavid and Milton Brown, were based on the presumption that “the world now knows that Mr. Kelly is a sexual predator.”

“The presumption of innocence was abolished for him,” Bonjean said, meaning Kelly was denied a fair trial. Judge Harry Leinenweber dismissed the claims.

Prosecutors will get a chance for a brief rebuttal after Bonjean delivers his closing argument in Kelly’s hometown of Chicago, where he rose from poverty to become an R&B superstar.

Known for his hit ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ and sex-infused songs such as ‘Bump n’ Grind’, Kelly sold millions of albums even after allegations of sexual misconduct began circulating in the media. 1990s. Widespread outrage emerged after the #MeToo reckoning and the 2019 docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly.”

Kelly and McDavid, Kelly’s former business manager, are accused of rigging the 2008 trial by intimidating and paying off witnesses. Both face child pornography charges. Brown, a former associate of Kelly’s, is accused of receiving child pornography.

Kelly was sentenced in June to 30 years in prison after a separate federal trial in New York, where he was found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking. Convictions on some of the 13 charges Kelly faces in his current trial could add years to his jail term.

Pozolo focused much of his argument on the government’s star witness, an accuser who went by the name “Jane” and who said Kelly sexually assaulted her hundreds of times starting when she was 14.

“He committed degrading acts on her for his own pleasure,” Pozolo said.

She reminded jurors of graphic video footage they had viewed, which Jane testified depicted Kelly, around the age of 30, abusing her at the age of 14. The videos shown included one at the heart of Kelly’s 2008 trial. Jurors later said they had no choice but to acquit Kelly because Jane had not testified.

” Who do this ? Who uses a 14 year old to film a video like this? she says. “That man. Robert Kelly.”

Prior to Kelly’s 2008 trial, Pozolo said, Kelly and his associates rushed to recover several sex videos that had disappeared from a collection he often carried in a large gym bag.

In doing so, she said, Kelly’s associates sought “to cover up the fact that … R&B superstar R. Kelly is in fact a sexual predator.”

In closing, a lawyer for McDavid said prosecutors needed to show his client actually knew about any abuse of Jane by Kelly in the 2000s – not just that it was likely he knew.

“Did they prove he knew…behind a reasonable doubt?” asked Beau Brindley. “They do not have.”

Pozolo balked at the idea that McDavid had no idea in the 2000s that the abuse allegations could be credible after he helped recover missing recordings and handed bags of money to people who sent back videos that McDavid knew he could destroy Kelly.


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