CHICAGO — The former R. Kelly business manager testified Wednesday in the disgraced R&B superstar’s federal child pornography trial, testifying that he believes the singer’s initial sexual misconduct charges were not nothing more than a “money grab”.
Derrel McDavid – one of Kelly’s two co-defendants at trial – told jurors he was hired as Kelly’s accountant shortly after meeting him in the early 1990s. of Kelly was growing, his ego was also growing.
“I knew ‘Robert,’ McDavid said. “Over time, ‘R. Kelly’ has been around.
“As for ‘Robert’, in the beginning, as we got to know each other, he always joked like one of the guys, like you had a friend,” McDavid continued. “When he became a superstar, he started acting like most superstars. He had to have what he wanted, it had to be how he wanted it.
Kelly’s first solo album sold over a million copies and the singer – who grew up in poverty, according to his lawyer – suddenly had access to hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was then, McDavid said, that Kelly’s relationships with women changed.
“He was ferrying a lot of women in and out of town, putting a lot of women in hotels,” McDavid said. “There were just a lot of women.”
McDavid – a CPA who had several other clients in the entertainment industry – said Kelly only associates with adults, not underage girls.
“I knew how a lot of superstars behaved,” McDavid said. “His demeanor was no different than any other superstar.”
McDavid said he was heavily involved in hiring others in Kelly’s orbit: attorneys, agents, insurance brokers and other professionals. In 1994, McDavid hired Gerald Margolis, a Los Angeles-based entertainment attorney who counted Robin Williams and Mick Jagger among his clients.
Three years later, a Chicago woman’s attorney, Tiffany Hawkins, informed Margolis of her intention to file a lawsuit alleging that Kelly had impregnated Hawkins. Kelly denied the allegations when confronted by McDavid and Margolis volunteering to take a paternity test. Shortly thereafter, McDavid said, Hawkins’ allegations changed. Instead of being pregnant, she claimed that she and Kelly engaged in sex acts when Hawkins was under the age of consent.
Although Hawkins initially demanded a $10 million reward, she later settled for $250,000 after a grueling 7-hour deposition by Margolis, McDavid said.
“After seven o’clock, Jerry [Margolis] proved that she was a liar,” McDavid said. “He caught her in so many lies [that] I couldn’t count. So what this proved to me is that this is all just someone trying to get paid.
Margolis told McDavid that settling lawsuits based on false claims was “the cost of doing business,” McDavid said.
“This young woman in 1997 told so many different stories and so many different lies, it was obvious something was wrong and, most importantly, Jerry Margolis said, ‘That’s how it goes. “and he proved it to me.”
The Hawkins lawsuit would be the first lawsuit against Kelly to be settled out of court. As Kelly’s business manager, McDavid was acutely aware of the singer’s finances.
“Compared to what Mr. Kelly was earning at the time, these payments were relatively insignificant,” McDavid said.
During the second week of the trial, jurors heard testimony from Charles Freeman, who said McDavid and Kelly hired him to retrieve a VHS tape showing Kelly engaging in sexual acts with an underage girl.
On Wednesday, however, McDavid said Freeman’s testimony was false. It was Freeman, McDavid said, who contacted Kelly in 2001 and told him he had a sex tape of Kelly with a woman. Freeman said he planned to sell the tape to a media outlet unless Kelly paid him.
“I wouldn’t hire him to shine my shoes,” McDavid said of Freeman.
McDavid is the only one of the three defendants to testify in his own defense, and his testimony is expected to continue through Thursday.
Earlier Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber quashed a subpoena issued to reporter Jim DeRogatis. DeRogatis’ reporting in the Chicago Sun-Times in the early 2000s eventually led to criminal charges against Kelly in Cook County in 2002.
A federal grand jury in Chicago charged Kelly on 13 counts in July 2019, accusing him of producing and receiving child pornography, while also inciting minors to engage in illegal sexual activity. Earlier this year, Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison by a federal judge in Brooklyn after being found guilty of racketeering.
McDavid and Milton “June” Brown, a former assistant to Kelly, 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 around him have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years to track down videotapes Kelly made that allegedly show him engaging in sexual activity with underage victims.
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