Music critic Jim DeRogatis won’t have to testify about R. Kelly video at singer’s trial, judge rules

R&B star R. Kelly, center, arrives with manager Derrel McDavid, left, at the Cook County Criminal Courts Building for his child pornography trial on May 20, 2008, in Chicago. (Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

R. Kelly’s former business manager is expected to take the stand Wednesday — but a former Sun-Times music critic will not — as proceedings resume for a fourth week in the singer’s trial at the Dirksen Federal Building.

Derrel McDavid, who faces charges alongside Kelly for allegedly helping coordinate payoffs to witnesses and allegedly rounding up incriminating sex tapes ahead of the singer’s 2008 trial on child pornography charges, will offer up "substantial" testimony, his lawyers have said.

McDavid can be expected to spend considerable time on the witness stand, facing cross-examination from federal prosecutors, as well as from lawyers for Kelly and fellow co-defendant Milton "June" Brown, a former assistant in Kelly’s entourage.

Meanwhile, U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber ruled that former Sun-Times journalist and music critic Jim DeRogatis, who had been subpoenaed by McDavid’s attorneys, will not have to testify. Wednesday, McDavid’s lawyer said he wanted to ask DeRogatis to see the VHS cassette entered into evidence by the government in this case is the same tape that DeRogatis received from an anonymous sender some two decades ago.


In 2002, DeRogatis received a VHS cassette of Kelly performing sex acts with an alleged 14-year-old girl, which he turned over to authorities and became key evidence in Kelly’s 2008 trial. DeRogatis, whose reporting alongside fellow Sun-Times reporter Abdon Pallasch, documented numerous lawsuits against Kelly that seemed to substantiate rumors swirling around the singer in the early 2000s.

Leinenweber ruled DeRogatis’ testimony was not necessary.

"Thank you, your honor. Thank you for the First Amendment," said DeRogatis’ lawyer, Seth Stern.

Witnesses have testified that McDavid handled payments for recovering Kelly’s stolen videotapes that allegedly showed the singer sexually abusing an underage girl.

McDavid’s lawyers have said that he was merely doing his job as Kelly’s business manager, and that throughout the early 2000s, he believed the denials from Kelly, his alleged victim, and her parents. The girl, identified in court by the pseudonym "Jane," did not testify in 2008, but said on the stand in the federal trial that she lied to investigators in the early 2000s and had been sexually abused by Kelly for years starting when she was 14.

Kelly’s trial was expected to resume Tuesday, but was delayed when U.S. District Clerk of Court Thomas Bruton announced that an "operational issue" at the Dirksen Federal Building would cause the courthouse to remain closed for an additional day after the holiday weekend. Officials later said the courthouse would reopen on Wednesday.

The trial was expected to end this week, but due to the delay could now enter a fifth week.

Kelly, 55, already has been convicted of child trafficking and racketeering in federal court in New York and been sentenced to 30 years in prison.