Sex, Lies, and Videotapes: The Chicago R. Kelly Trial Continues

Disgraced former R&B star, R. Kelly’s trial began last week at the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago. R. Kelly is facing child pornography and obstruction of justice charges in connection with sexual encounters with five alleged victims. The Grammy-winning artist is already a convicted sex offender after being convicted in a Brooklyn Federal Court on federal sex trafficking and racketeering charges.


Unlike his 2008 child pornography trial in which R. Kelly was acquitted, prosecutors now have the alleged girl seen in the now infamous sex tape with R. Kelly as a witness. The woman, called “Jane” by the court was 14 years old when she was filmed by Kelly performing sexual acts. Now after being granted immunity by the prosecution, the now 37-year-old took the stand as one of the witnesses for the prosecution. In her testimony, “Jane” said she was starstruck after meeting Kelly. She alleges her sexual encounters with R. Kelly continued until her 20s. Her refusal to testify in the 2008 trial is cited as one of the reasons Kelly was acquitted.

” I was afraid to expose Robert. I was afraid of what might happen to my parents. I also did not want that person to be me…I was ashamed”- “Jane,” alleged R. Kelly Victim

During her testimony, “Jane” stated she was encouraged by her aunt, Chicago singer, Sparkle, to connect with R. Kelly. “Jane,” said Sparkle said she should ask R. Kelly to be her godfather. From there the relationship grew and her family became comfortable with her visiting Kelly without adult supervision.  Sparkle refuted those claims in an Instagram post saying her niece was “misguided” and that “this is part of a family feud”.

“This is another form of the terrible decision-making of her mom and in my opinion, the unfortunate continuing allegiance to Robert.”-R&B Singer, Sparkle

“Jane” is one of five victims allegedly sexually abused by R. Kelly in the 90s. Of the five victims, four of them were seen on explicit pornography tapes. Kelly is charged with producing and receiving child porn, enticing minors to engage in criminal sexual activity, and obstruction. In addition, he faces trial with co-defendants, Former Business Manager, Derrel McDavid, and former assistant, Milton Brown. Kelly’s co-defendants are also charged with child pornography and obstruction. Brown also faces an additional count of conspiracy to receive child porn. Kelly, McDavid, and Brown have all pled not guilty.

This week, an IRS agent testified about payments totaling $79,000 R. Kelly made to the parents of “Jane” between 2006-2012. “Jane” also received payments until 2015 through Kelly’s companies. During cross-examination, the agent said there was no indication that Kelly initiated those payments as he did not sign any of the checks or initiate any of the wire transfers.


Charles Freeman testifying under immunity said on Tuesday that R. Kelly asked him to find some tapes he misplaced. Kelly linked Freeman up with a private investigator, Jack Palladino who asked him how much he charged. Palladino who once also worked with Harvey Weinstein is now deceased.  Freeman said he wanted one million dollars for the retrieval of the tapes. Freeman then went to a house in Atlanta and demanded the tapes. Recovering three tapes, the third tape showed a young girl being sexually abused the Kelly. Unsure of if he would be paid by Palladino, Freeman made three copies of the tape.

When Freeman turned over the tapes to Kelly’s team, he says he was made to take a lie detector test and strip naked and get in a pool to prove he was not wearing a wire. While Freeman was never paid the one million dollars he asked for, he was paid well over six figures over the years with cash being delivered in plastic or paper bags. It wasn’t until 2019 that Freeman turned over the tapes to law enforcement via his attorney. When asked why he didn’t turn over the tapes sooner, Freeman stated, “because the police weren’t going to give me a million dollars”.

Freeman is a key witness for the prosecution who alleges Kelly and his co-defendants conspired to cover up Kelly’s alleged abuse of young girls while he was being investigated for child pornography charges in the early 2000s. During Wednesday’s cross-examination, defense attorneys characterized him as a con artist, liar, and criminal.

Freeman’s testimony during cross-examination was contentious and animated with defense attorney’s highlighting Freeman’s contradictions in his recollection of events from the time he testified in front of a grand jury to now. During parts of his testimony, Freeman seemed amused to which defense attorney, Brindley asked “Is this funny? Are you having a good time?” Freeman responded, “Yes I am.”  Freeman signed a contract that stated he would receive $100,000 plus expenses if he recovered the tapes, but defense attorneys pointed out that there was no contract stating he would earn $1 million for recovery of the tapes which contradicted his testimony on Tuesday. The defense said this proved Freeman was a liar and extortionist.

Testimony continues today as the prosecution continues to present its case against Kelly. R. Kelly is currently in a federal jail in Chicago while his trial continues. The trial is expected to last at least a month. Kelly also faces additional charges in Minnesota and the State of Illinois.

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