Jurors in R. Kelly’s federal trial in Chicago heard testimonies from a fixer and lie detector test administrator on Tuesday, August 23, as prosecutors tried to show how the disgraced singer and his associates allegedly attempted to cover up and undermine past allegations and investigations of sexual assault and child pornography.
as the Chicago Tribune According to reports, the prosecution’s top witness today was Charles Freeman, a fixer of sorts, who did merchandise for Kelly in the 1990s and later became friends with the singer. According to Freeman, Kelly called him around 2001 with a specific task: “recover some tapes”.
Freeman said he then heard from one of Kelly’s co-defendants, Derrel McDavid, as well as notorious private investigator Jack Palladino, both of whom allegedly told Freeman that he would get a “reward” if he picked up the video (Palladino, who for Kelly, as well as Bill Clinton and Harvey Weinstein, died after being attacked last February.) Freeman claimed he didn’t know what was on the tape at the time, claiming only that McDavid described it as a “performing band,” and that as Freeman got it back, “they would take care of me.”
In August 2001, Freeman signed a contract stating that he would receive $100,000, plus expenses, if he found the band again. He also testified that McDavid told him he could make $1 million for the job, although McDavid reportedly insisted, “We need the originals and make sure this is the real evidence tape… It would look bad if we would give you a million dollars for a tape and it’s not the tape we want.”
As for who had the tapes, Freeman said he was told they had been taken by one of Kelly’s ex-girlfriends, Lisa Van Allen, who gave them to a few people in Atlanta. Freeman said he drove to the house of the people who would have the tape and said to the woman who opened the door, “I’m here to get back the MF tapes you all stole from Robert Kelly.”
One of the tapes, Freeman said, showed Kelly “with a young lady having sex” (the other two were a Disney movie and a family video, he said). When asked how old the woman looked at him, Freeman replied, “Young.” He also said he made several copies of that video with some blank tapes and a VCR he bought after picking up the tapes.
Freeman testified that he still had copies of the tape in 2019 and only handed them over to authorities through his lawyer after he learned that the police were investigating him in connection with Kelly. When asked why he didn’t immediately hand the tape over to the police after getting it in 2001, Freeman replied, “Because the police wouldn’t pay me a million dollars.”
As Freeman handed the tape to McDavid and Palladino, the pair reportedly had him take a lie detector test. Previously, the jury had heard from Lawrence Berkland, a lie detector testing administrator, who said an attorney hired him in August 2001 to interview someone about whether they had made copies of a particular videotape. Berkland said the man he interviewed refused to give his name and did not cooperate until Berkland told him that the attorney who hired him said the subject would get $200,000 if he passed the test.
During his testimony, Freeman said that after he took his polygraph test, Palladino contacted him and said he knew he had another band. Freeman said he gave that tape and got a bag of money in return.
In addition to retrieving the tape in 2001, Freeman said McDavid had contacted him again in late 2003 or early 2004 to re-establish another tape. “Derrell said it’s a performance tape again, sextape is what he described,” Freeman said. “With Lisa Van Allen, Robert and the young lady on the tape.” Freeman’s description of the tape reportedly matches the description that prosecutors used for Video 4 – the only tape of the four that they don’t have and can’t show to the jury.
Yesterday, Aug. 22, the jury heard some pivotal testimony from a woman identified as “Susan,” who is the mother of “Jane,” Kelly’s former goddaughter who alleges Kelly began sexually abusing her — and captured that abuse on video — when she was 14, Jane and her family initially turned down investigators investigating the abuse allegations against Kelly in the early 2000s, and Susan even denied that it was Jane on the tape during Grand Jury hearings at the time. But after Jane testified about her own experience last week, Susan backed up many of her claims — including that it was her on the video — as she stood in the booth on Monday.
Susan said she lied to the grand jury about the video because “we feared for our lives and we were intimidated.” Susan also testified that she felt threatened during a meeting with Kelly and McDavid in the early 2000s, in which the pair reportedly told her to “leave town right away,” and Kelly is said to have asked her, “Are you with us? or aren’t you?”
“They’d hurt us if we didn’t do what they told us to do,” Susan testified. “We were scared … we packed our bags and left the city.”