CHICAGO - A federal prosecutor told jurors "the hidden side of R. Kelly has come to light" as closing arguments got underway Monday in the federal child pornography and obstruction-of-justice trial of the R&B superstar.
"The truth has come out," Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Pozolo told the jury as she wrapped up her commentary Monday afternoon. "Find the defendants guilty of all counts in the indictment."
Pozolo spoke to jurors for more than two hours before the trial broke for lunch. Beau Brindley, an attorney for Kelly co-defendant and former business manager Derrel McDavid, continued the arguments after the break.
When arguments end, likely Tuesday, jurors will finally begin deliberating. The trial at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse featured roughly 30 witnesses and spilled into its fifth week Monday.
Pozolo kicked off the proceedings by focusing on a woman known to jurors as "Jane." Now in her late 30s, Jane told jurors last month that Kelly sexually abused her repeatedly in the 1990s, starting when she was 14.
The prosecutor said Kelly "used his position as Jane’s godfather to molest her."
"He took advantage of Jane’s youth," Pozolo said. "He repeatedly abused her. He performed degrading acts upon her for his own sick pleasure."
Pozolo used part of her closing statement to address potential weaknesses in the feds’ case, which defense attorneys have sought to exploit. She called one key government witness, Charles Freeman, "disgraceful."
Freeman testified that he helped hunt down incriminating videos of Kelly in the 2000s, and that he provided two of the videos now at issue in the case. He also admitted to various crimes on the witness stand, where he testified pursuant to an immunity deal.
"You don’t have to like him," Pozolo said of Freeman. But she told jurors to view his testimony "in light of all of the other evidence in this case."
The prosecutor acknowledged some inconsistent statements by Lisa Van Allen, a former Kelly girlfriend and longtime accuser. Pozolo said the notion that Van Allen testified falsely against Kelly for fame or money is "ridiculous."
Van Allen told jurors she was involved in a three-way sexual encounter with Kelly and Jane when Jane would have been about 14. Van Allen said Kelly told her Jane was 16 at the time.
"The fame that all this has brought Lisa is a lifelong Google search history of someone having sex with a minor," Pozolo said.
Unsurprisingly, Brindley attacked Freeman and Van Allen early in his closing argument. He said that, to find McDavid guilty, jurors would have to also find that well-regarded professionals were also involved in the conspiracy. They included late lawyers Gerald Margolis and Edward Genson, and the late private investigator Jack Palladino.
"You must necessarily find that Eddie and Gerry and Jack all did it too," Brindley said. "And you must be able to say Chuck Freeman was trustworthy beyond a reasonable doubt. And you must be able to say that Lisa Van Allen was trustworthy beyond a reasonable doubt."
Kelly sat at the defense table in the courtroom in a gray suit with his shoulders hunched as the lawyers delivered their commentary. Before jurors entered the courtroom, McDavid could be seen laughing with Kelly and their lawyers.
One member of Kelly’s legal team was also seen showing Kelly a Monopoly "Get Out of Jail Free" card with Kelly’s face superimposed on it.
Arguments from prosecutors and defense attorneys are expected to take seven hours and continue into Tuesday.
With a case built around decades-old video that purport to show the Chicago-born singer sexually abusing Jane — who testified during the trial’s first week — prosecutors have charged that Kelly groomed young girls for sex and paid out a fortune to hide his crimes.
Two decades ago, Jane denied she appeared on one of the tapes when questioned by authorities, but she now says that she lied to investigators to protect the singer.
Several other women have also testified that Kelly sexually abused them when they were minors.
Lawyers for Kelly and his two co-defendants — McDavid and former assistant Milton "June" Brown — have attacked the credibility of Kelly’s accusers and that of witnesses who have admitted they concealed evidence of alleged child pornography in exchange for payoffs from the star.
Prosecutors also allege that Kelly and his co-defendants used the payoffs to help the singer beat child pornography charges that he faced during a 2008 trial in state court, after which Kelly was acquitted.
McDavid, who parted ways with the singer in 2014, spent three days on the witness stand, insisting evidence available at the time made him believe the allegations leveled against Kelly — by Cook County prosecutors and multiple women who filed lawsuits against Kelly — were false.
Kelly, 55, was convicted last year on child trafficking and racketeering charges in federal court in New York and is already serving a 30-year prison sentence.