R. Kelly‘s attorney Jennifer Bonjean questioned the government’s decision to wait “over two decades” to prosecute him for “a hodgepodge of charges” in what she described as “a mob justice climate,” during his child sex abuse case this past week.
Bonjean also said that the case was based on social media movements and the docuseries, which aired in early 2019 — just months before Kelly was indicted in New York and Chicago.
R. Kelly’s Attorney Denounces Child Sex Abuse Case, Points Finger At A ‘Mob Justice Climate’ For His New Trial
Kelly is facing 13 counts, including producing and receiving child sexual abuse images and obstructing justice. He is accused of recording videos of himself sexually abusing the 14-year-old girl from the 2008 trial, and two other minors, and is facing charges of luring them and two more underage girls to have sex with him.
Prosecutors also allege that he schemed with associates to round up the illicit tapes, pay off witnesses, and persuade the girl at the center of the 2008 case and her parents to lie about the true nature of her relationship with Kelly. In this case, the girl is being referred to under the pseudonym Jane and will testify under that name, US attorney Jason Julien said.
Bonjean informed jurors that the government was trying to paint her client “literally as a monster,” and that while he is “imperfect” he’s not a bad guy.
“On his journey from poverty to stardom, he stumbled,” Bonjean said, adding that he was “ill-equipped” to deal with fame given his difficulties reading and writing and relied on people like Derrel McDavid (his former business manager) to guide him.
In her statement to the jury, Bonjean alleged that the video that the government says depicts a threesome between Kelly, Jane, and the adult woman but will not be shown at trial, “doesn’t exist and it never existed.” She also claims that the other videos “have no evidentiary value” unless someone can authenticate them, and denounced the allegations that Kelly was able to keep Jane and her parents from telling the truth for almost two decades.
“Mr. Kelly had this Svengali grip on this family for what? 20 years?” Bonjean said. “You’re going to have to decide whether that makes much sense at all.”
And while Bonjean questioned the legitimacy of the tapes, as Kelly’s defense did in 2008, attorneys for McDavid and Milton Brown (a former assistant for Kelly) seemed to accept the government’s central claim that the videos in question are child sexual abuse images however said their clients just didn’t have the information to know that back then.
Kathleen Leon, an attorney for Brown, said her client had “no knowledge” of the alleged conspiracy to receive child sex abuse images while working as an assistant for Kelly. And much like the others, Brown also believed that the tape “was a fake,” Leon added.
After Kelly was acquitted in 2008, Brown continued to work for the R&B artist and abide by his system of rules. “Milton would not have known more than the general public,” Leon said.
Vadim Glozman, McDavid’s attorney, said that his client was not involved in any agreements with anyone except Kelly’s team of attorneys and that based on the information he had at the time of the 2008 trial he believed the infamous tape was “a fraud.”
“Derrel McDavid did his job with excellence,” Glozman said, adding that doing your job “is not a crime.”
After hearing Glozman’s opening statement, Bonjean motioned for a mistrial on Wednesday afternoon, claiming that McDavid defense seemed to be “finger-pointing” her client. Previously, Kelly’s legal team had attempted to sever the case so he could face a separate trial from McDavid, however, that request was denied. US District Court Judge Harry Leinenweber promptly denied Bonjean’s request and moved on with the trial.
After the attorneys’ opening statements, jurors heard testimony from Dr. Darrel Turner, a clinical psychologist who talked generally about how sexual offenders groom their victims, along with Ann Meckelborg, a managing director for the Recording Academy, who spoke about Kelly’s Grammy Awards history.
During Meckelborg’s testimony, prosecutors played a clip of Kelly performing his hit song “I Believe I Can Fly” at the Grammys ceremony in 1998 when he won three awards for the track.
Jurors also heard from retired Chicago police detective Daniel Everett, who began investigating allegations that Kelly was sexually abusing Jane in 2000.
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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