Jurors will continue to hear testimony

A key prosecution witness against R. Kelly has spoken at the disgraced R&B superstar’s federal trial and is expected to testify that he helped recover incriminating videotapes while Kelly was the subject of a sexual abuse investigation.

Charles Freeman, whom defense attorneys called in their opening statements a liar, con artist and extortionist, is testifying under an immunity agreement with prosecutors.

Freeman entered the crowded courtroom wearing a blue suit and dark glasses. He removed his glasses and black mask before beginning to testify.

Kelly looked animated, appearing to laugh as Freeman described how they became friends after a misunderstanding over a stolen jacket. And several times during Freeman’s testimony, Kelly leaned down to whisper to her lawyers.

Freeman started working for Kelly doing merchandising in the early 1990s, he testified, and the two men became friends.

Freeman told jurors that in 2001 he received a call from Kelly, who told him he wanted him to “get some tapes back.”

Shortly after, he heard from co-defendant Derrel McDavid and investigator Jack Palladino, he said, who said there would be a “reward” if he could recover the stolen video. At the time of the phone calls, he didn’t know what was on the tape, he said.

“Derrel said it was a performance tape that they really needed to get back, and if I got the tape back, they would take care of me,” Freeman said. “Those were his exact words.”

Freeman learned that an ex-girlfriend of Kelly’s, Lisa Van Allen, stole the video and gave it to people in Atlanta, he testified. He signed a contract in August 2001 to collect the tapes for $100,000 plus expenses — not the million dollars he had agreed to, he said.

McDavid told him he would get the whole million “but how do we know what you got back is what we want?” We need originals and make sure they are the actual evidence tapes,” Freeman said.

“It would look bad if we gave you a million dollars for a tape and it’s not the tape we want,” McDavid said, according to Freeman’s testimony.

Freeman visited a home in Georgia a few days later.

“A young lady came to the door and I said, ‘I’m here to get back the FM tapes you stole from Robert Kelly.’ Those are my exact words,” Freeman said.

Freeman got three tapes from home, then went to Wal-Mart and bought blank tapes and a VCR, he said.

One Strip was a Disney movie. Another was a kind of home video. The third was a tape of Kelly “with a young woman having sex,” Freeman said.

“How old did the female look to you?” asked Assistant US Attorney Jeannice Appenteng.

“Young,” he replied.

Freeman “immediately” made three or four copies of this tape, he says, because he did not trust McDavid or Palladino to pay for it. He still had copies of the tape in early 2019, he testified.

In early 2019, Freeman’s attorney told him that “the police were coming for me because my name came out that I had child pornography for Robert Kelly.” Freeman gave the tapes to his attorney, who turned them over to law enforcement, he said.

Freeman didn’t first tell law enforcement about the child pornography “because the police weren’t going to pay me a million dollars,” he said.

Freeman gave a copy of the tape to McDavid and Palladino, who gave him a polygraph test on it. Later, Palladino called and said they knew he had another tape and arranged another meeting for him to turn it over and get paid.

Freeman handed over the tape and received a bag of cash in return. It wasn’t the full million, but they told him he would be paid in installments – every two years “until Rob gets to court,” Freeman said.

Freeman sued in 2002 for the money, a suit he says Kelly settled immediately for $100,000. And in 2003, he contacted McDavid to get another payout of about the same amount in cash in a bag, Freeman said.

In late 2003 or early 2004, McDavid contacted Freeman again to get another tape, Freeman said.

“I said if I got to get another tape, you gotta pay me another million dollars,” Freeman said.

“Derrel said it was another performance tape, the sex tape is what he described,” Freeman says. “With Lisa Van Allen, Robert and the young lady on tape.”

Prosecutors described a similar video as Video 4 of the indictment, which prosecutors said they did not have and could not play for jurors.

Earlier, Kelly’s defense attorneys cross-examined Lawrence Berkland, a polygraph test administrator, as prosecutors described an alleged conspiracy to cover up Kelly’s alleged sexual misconduct ahead of his county criminal trial. by Cook.

Berkland first spoke late Monday and said he had been hired by a lawyer in August 2001 to test someone to find out if they had made copies of a certain videotape and if it was the only videotape he had. Berkland gave the unidentified man three tests and he passed all three, he said.

It was not told to the jury if the man was in fact Freeman.

The test subject was relatively uncooperative at first, even refusing to give Berkland his name. But when Berkland told him what the attorney had said — that the subject would get $200,000 if he passed — the man became more submissive, Berkland said Tuesday during cross-examination by an attorney representing the co-defendant Milton Brown.

Berkland said in direct questioning Monday that at one point the test subject pulled a VHS tape out of his pants and left it on the table while he was using the restroom. The person who hired him had also arranged for the same test subject to take a polygraph test, Berkland said Monday.

On Tuesday morning, polygraph administrator John Hurlock testified remotely from Missouri that he was also hired in August 2001 to test someone to see if they had any other copies of a certain tape. The test subject also refused to give Hurlock his name or signature.

“He gave me a nickname, he told me to just call it ‘Showtime,'” Hurlock said. “So that’s what I wrote on the form.”

Hurlock also never obtained any information about the contents of the tape in question, Hurlock said. He was asked to refer to it only as a “performance tape”, he said.

Hurlock does not recall giving the subject a polygraph test, he said. If the man had refused to sign his form, Hurlock probably wouldn’t have tested him, he said.

“It seems to me that he just got upset about the whole process and wanted to quit,” he said.

Defense attorneys argued against the speculation, and Hurlock acknowledged that, yes, he was speculating.

“It was so long ago,” he said.

Kelly and co-defendants Brown and Derrel McDavid are accused of participating in an extensive scheme to cover up Kelly’s misdeeds.

Monday’s central witness was a mother whose young daughter was allegedly sexually abused by R. Kelly on videotape in the 1990s. She testified that Kelly threatened them and kicked them out of town after allegations of abuse first surfaced more than 20 years ago.

The woman, who goes by the pseudonym ‘Susan’, echoed some of the bombshell claims her daughter ‘Jane’ made in court last week, a watershed moment in the R. Kelly saga after years of being denied any sexual misconduct by the R&B star. But Susan’s testimony, unlike Jane’s, was rambling and confusing at times, and she contradicted her daughter on a few key points.

Kelly, 55, is charged with 13 counts of producing child pornography, conspiracy to produce child pornography and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Some of the counts carry a mandatory minimum of 10 years behind bars if convicted, while others range from five to 20 years in prison. Prosecutors are also seeking forfeiture of $1.5 million of personal money from Kelly.

Afternoon briefing


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The trial is expected to last until at least mid-September, and jurors are likely to hear from more women saying Kelly had sexual contact with them when they were underage. Prosecutors also allege Kelly and his team took extensive steps to cover up Kelly’s wrongdoing, which ultimately led to his acquittal of state child pornography charges in 2008.

On Friday, jurors watched graphic clips from three separate videos allegedly showing the R&B superstar sexually assaulting 14-year-old Jane.

Jane testified last week that she was the girl seen in the videos and that Kelly had sex with her “countless times” when she was underage, then paid her and her family, to keep her quiet.

So far, Kelly’s defense has not directly disputed that it was Kelly in the video clips, saying only that their authenticity could not be verified and that Kelly had already been acquitted of conduct involving them. . The defense also did not give jurors an alternative version of Jane’s account of the events related to the videos. Instead, defense attorneys seek to sow doubt by telling the panel that Jane denied it was her in the clips for more than two decades.

Regardless of the outcome, Kelly still faces decades in prison. In June, he was sentenced to 30 years on federal racketeering charges brought in New York. He is appealing both the jury’s verdict and the sentence in this case.

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