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Former R Kelly manager’s testimony dominates in last phase of the musician’s latest sexual abuse trial

By | Published on Monday 12 September 2022

R Kelly

The ongoing R Kelly trial was dominated last week by the testimony of the star’s former business manager Derrel McDavid, who is a co-defendant in the case. He is accused of helping Kelly cover up the star’s sexual abuse of minors in the 2000s, but – he repeatedly insisted on the witness stand last week – at the time he genuinely believed that all of the musician’s various accusers were lying.

For that claim to be credible, McDavid needed to convince jurors that he had never closely scrutinised the various sex tapes involving Kelly that were leaked and then retrieved during the 2000s, including the one that was at the centre of the musician’s 2008 trial. That video allegedly shows Kelly sexually abusing his then fourteen year old goddaughter, referred to as Jane, who declined to testify in 2008 but has been key witness in this trial.

He also needed to be absent from some key meetings that took place in the 2000s, not least when Kelly met with Jane’s parents to discuss that tape which showed him sexually abusing their daughter. According to Jane, Kelly confessed to the abuse during that meeting and apologised to her parents. However, she couldn’t remember if McDavid was there, and he insisted last week that he’d been waiting in a car outside.

After that meeting, McDavid reminded the court, Jane and her parents denied that it was her in the leaked video. And Jane also denied having ever had a sexual relationship with Kelly. Meanwhile Kelly himself, McDavid said, had responded angrily at the suggestion that he’d been having sex with his fourteen year old goddaughter.

McDavid also insisted that it was reasonable for him to assume that the various people making allegations of sexual abuse against his employer were simply trying to extort money out of the star, because he had seen various former friends and associates of Kelly try to profit as the musician rose to fame.

And – according to the Chicago Tribune – the first woman to sue Kelly over allegations he had had sex with her when she was underage was not a credible accuser, according to McDavid. That was Tiffany Hawkins, who went legal in the late 1990s. But she claimed that Kelly had impregnated her, an allegation she couldn’t prove and later dropped. That made McDavid doubt the claims made by Hawkins and other similar accusers that followed.

While, he added, he was initially confused when Kelly settled with Hawkins, given how adamant he was that she was lying – and that that could be proven – he said that the musician’s then lawyer Gerald Margolis told him that paying off accusers to make litigation go away was a commonly employed tactic in such scenarios.

This is why he continued to believe Kelly when he said that his accusers were all liars, even after the tape featuring Jane, and then others, leaked.

Seeking to further back up his claim that he had no knowledge of Kelly’s alleged crimes at the time – and that he was simply helping his employer and other advisors, like Margolis, deal with what he thought were cases of extortion – he noted that none of the musician’s accusers ever went to the police with their allegations.

Although, the prosecution – who were obviously keen to throw doubt on McDavid’s claims of ignorance – pointed out that neither Kelly nor Margolis were taking their allegations of extortion to the police either.

Following McDavid’s lengthy testimony, the case for the entire defence actually rested on Friday. Efforts by McDavid’s team to force a testimony from Jim DeRogatis – the journalist who has long covered the allegations against Kelly – failed. The writer successfully convinced the judge that his testimony was not necessary.

Both prosecution and defence will now begin presenting their closing arguments later today.

McDavid’s team will continue with their claims that their client was not aware of his employer’s crimes. And Kelly’s lawyers will continue to throw doubt on the timelines presented by the prosecution’s witnesses, in a bid to suggest that his alleged victims may have been over the age of consent the first time they had sex with the star.

Attorneys for the final co-defendant, Milton ‘June’ Brown – whose alleged role in Kelly’s 2000s cover up hasn’t had much attention during the trial – will no doubt stress that there’s a good reason why nothing much has come up regarding their client. It’s because he didn’t really have a role in that cover up, being a low level employee in the Kelly empire.

The case continues.