closing arguments

The Prosecution’s Final Words in R. Kelly’s Child-Pornography Trial

Photo: E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

As R. Kelly’s Chicago federal trial neared its end on Monday, September 12, the prosecution presented their closing arguments to the jury, focusing on how Kelly had used his network to allegedly hide that he preyed on minors and produced child pornography that chronicled his sexual abuse. “Kelly and his team — they did their level best … to cover up the fact that Robert Kelly, R. Kelly the R&B superstar, is actually a sexual predator. They did their best, but in the end, they failed,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Pozolo said, per the Chicago Tribune’s Megan Crepeau. “We are here today because those tapes that they concealed for 20 years are no longer their secret. You have seen the tapes.” Pozolo discussed “Jane,” Kelly’s former goddaughter, whom he allegedly abused. Jane, now 37, told jurors on August 18 that Kelly had sexually abused her “hundreds” of times when she was an underage teen. Jane testified that she was the girl in a video with Kelly that spurred his 2008 child-pornography trial in Chicago. She told the jury she was just 14 when the video was recorded — putting Kelly at around 30 years old at the time, according to the Associated Press.

Jane had refused to cooperate in Kelly’s early 2000s trial, so she didn’t testify; several jurors who sat on the case previously explained that this is why they’d found him not guilty. Jane admitted in court that she’d lied to a grand jury in 2002 when she claimed that it wasn’t her on the tape. “I was afraid something bad would happen to Robert,” Jane said during her testimony. “I was protecting him.” Explaining why she’d lied, Jane said: “I also did not want that person to be me” and “I was ashamed.” Jane said that she recently started to talk about what had happened with Kelly, because she “became exhausted living with his lies.” Pozolo repeatedly emphasized Jane’s testimony during her closing. “That child, who had no prior sexual experiences in her life, was forced to lay on that floor while that man sitting right over there urinated on her. That degrading act is forever captured on that video,” Crepeau reported Pozolo saying. “That abuse is forever memorialized … Who does that? Who uses a 14-year-old child to film a video like this? This man. Robert Kelly.”

The “I Believe I Can Fly” singer’s Chicago federal trial — his second trial in a year — started on August 15. Kelly, who was found guilty of racketeering and sex crimes in Brooklyn federal court in September 2021, is charged on counts of child pornography and obstruction of justice. The feds contend that Kelly engaged in sexual acts with five minors, recording some of these encounters on video. Accomplices Derrel McDavid and Milton “June” Brown are on trial alongside Kelly for allegedly helping cover up his purported crimes and sabotaging his prior child-pornography case. The prosecution, Crepeau reported, ended its closing with Pozolo saying, “Robert Kelly abused many girls over many years. He committed horrible crimes against children. And he didn’t do it alone … all these years later, the hidden side of Robert Kelly has come to light. The truth has come out.” Defense closings have begun and may continue on September 13.

The Final Words in R. Kelly’s Child-Pornography Trial