Prosecution Rests In Kelly Case
Jim DeRogatis, the Chicago Sun-Times journalist who broke the story about the sex tape at the center of the R. Kelly child pornography trial, was called to testify outside of the jury after weeks of legal wrangling over whether the reporter should be compelled to take the stand.
While the defense has raised questions as to how DeRogatis received the tape in 2002, as well as what he did with it in the time before he turned it over to police, those questions were left unanswered after Judge Vincent Gaughan ruled the journalist could not be made to testify.
Previously, Gaughan ruled that since DeRogatis was not protected under the First Amendment and Illinois reporter’s privilege, he would have to take the stand, according to the Sun-Times, but the judge later said that he could invoke the Fifth Amendment to avoid self-incrimination.
And when DeRogatis appeared in court June 4th, after missing his first ordered appearance and nearly facing a warrant for his arrest, he did just that.
"I respectfully decline to answer that question on the advice of counsel on the grounds that to do so would contravene the reporter privilege, the special witness doctrine and my rights under the Illinois Constitution as well as the First and Fifth Amendments of the United States Constitution," DeRogatis reportedly said in response to all questions.
However, the judge has asked that the journalist turn over his notes from an interview with Stephanie "Sparkle" Edwards, the aunt of the alleged victim, the paper reported.
Days earlier, the prosecution called star witness Lisa Van Allen to the stand.
Van Allen, who claimed she began a relationship with Kelly about 10 years ago when she was 17 years old, testified in court that she participated in a threesome with the singer and the alleged victim multiple times, and identified both of the parties on the tape.
The woman’s first encounter with Kelly and the alleged victim took place in the "log cabin" hot tub room at the singer’s former home that prosecutors claim is seen on the videotape, Van Allen said.
"He had a stand, and he set it up … and directed it toward where we were," she said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "[He] told us where to sit and basically what to do."
A second encounter reportedly took place on the singer’s basketball court, the woman claimed, although things apparently came to a halt when Van Allen got upset.
"I didn’t want to do it," Van Allen said during testimony. "[Kelly] stopped everything and put up the camera and we left."
The last alleged encounter took place in a trailer on the set for one of Kelly’s music videos. Van Allen claimed that when someone knocked on the door of the trailer, the alleged victim "had to run to the bathroom naked," so she wouldn’t be seen.
Van Allen said that Kelly would keep the tapes of the alleged encounters in a black duffel bag that was always by his side, the paper reported.
"If he was in the studio, it was in the studio with him. If he went to Hoops [basketball court], it went to Hoops with him," she said.
Under cross-examination, Kelly’s defense team painted Van Allen as opportunistic, questioning why she took so long to come forward with her testimony in the case. When defense attorney Sam Adam Sr. alleged Van Allen had tried to extort money from the singer, she denied the claim, although she did admit to stealing a Rolex watch from Kelly in 2001.
With the prosecution resting its case, the defense has begun calling witnesses to the stand, including multiple family members of the alleged victim who claim it is not her on the tape.
Under cross-examination, Leroy Edwards Jr. testified that the case has nearly split the family in half over whether the girl, who prosecutors allege was as young as 13 at the time, appeared in the video.
Both Kelly and the girl in question have denied being on the tape.
Kelly, who has pleaded not guilty, has been charged with 14 counts of child pornography. If convicted, he could face up to 15 years in prison.