A prominent music critic and journalist who has covered R. Kelly for years and penned the 2019 book “Soulless” about the R&B singer’s lengthy list of criminal allegations is seeking to stay off the witness stand when Kelly’s federal trial resumes this week.
Music critic Jim DeRogatis and The New Yorker, a publication he reported for, filed a motion Tuesday asking U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber to quash a subpoena filed by Kelly’s co-defendant Derrel McDavid, citing it as “unduly burdensome, unreasonable and oppressive.”
Kelly was charged in 2019 on allegations that he sexually abused multiple minor girls and recorded some of those acts on video. McDavid and Milton “June” Brown, two of Kelly’s former employees, are also charged with conspiring to conceal evidence to obstruct law enforcement.
DeRogatis was previously a music critic for the Chicago Sun-Times when, in 2002, he was anonymously sent a tape showing Kelly engaged in illicit sexacts with an underage girl. He was called to testify at Kelly’s 2008 child pornography trial, but exercised his First and Fifth Amendment rights and refused to answer questions.
According to his motion, if he is forced to testify in the ongoing federal case, DeRogatis could be left “in the potential position of impeaching his source or risking subsequent claims that he breached confidentiality.”
He also argued in the motion that without a “legitimate evidentiary need” for his testimony, the subpoena represents “harassment or intimidation” against DeRogatis.
“Intimidation by subpoena, or by individuals unrelated, but sympathetic, to defendants, is of particular concern,” the motion states, “when coupled with prior acts and statements of a threatening nature that augment the undue burden of being compelled to appear to answer irrelevant questions about inadmissible newsgathering activities.”
The motion further indicates that DeRogatis and his daughter have been threatened and a window at his home was once shot out following his reporting on Kelly.
According to his motion, DeRogatis was told to appear in court to testify Tuesday, but hearings throughout the Dirksen Federal building were delayed after the courthouse was closed for a day due to an “operational issue.”
The case is expected to resume Wednesday, with testimony possibly concluding this week.