Prosecutors in R. Kelly’s Chicago federal trial could rest their case as early as Tuesday, they announced ahead of jurors’ arrival in the courtroom.
That could put the trial on track to finish next week, given a few days for defense witnesses to testify on behalf of Kelly and his co-defendants.
Testimony continued Tuesday morning from a childhood friend of a woman who said R. Kelly sexually assaulted her when she was underage.
Federal prosecutors called Kelly Adams to stand late Monday to corroborate the claims of her friend Tracy, who tested Monday using only her first name. There was extensive discussion during cross-examination Monday about what year Tracy met the singer. Tracy tested it was in 1999, when she was 16; however, defense attorney Jennifer Bonjean asserted strenuously that it could only have happened a year later, when Tracy was 17 — the legal age of consent.
On cross-examination Tuesday from Bonjean, Adams was insistent that she and Tracy met Kelly when Tracy was 16. But in a signed statement as part of Tracy’s 2001 lawsuit, Adams said that they met Kelly in 2000, when Tracy would have been 17.
“You think your memory is better in August of 2022 than it was when you signed your statement of August of ’01?” Bonjean asked.
“In August of 2001, I don’t know what that is, but I know for sure it wasn’t 2000 when we met him,” she replied.
Some of her prior statements to law enforcement also said Tracy might have been older than 16, Bonjean noted. Adams said those were merely estimates.
“‘Thinks,’ ‘maybe,’ these are all uncertain terms,” she said.
Tracy on Monday told jurors in extensive detail about Kelly’s sexual abuse and assault of her when she was 16. Another Kelly accuser also tested Monday under the pseudonym “Pauline,” saying she had sexual contact with the disgraced singer dozens if not hundreds of times when she was underage.
Both women came under intense cross-examination from Bonjean, who asserted that both women had actually reached 17 — Illinois’ age of consent — when they began their sexual relationships with Kelly.
Kelly’s trial now in its third week at the Dirksen US Courthouse, which has so far featured nearly two dozen witnesses.
Chicago Tribune editors’ top story picks, delivered to your inbox each afternoon.
Kelly, 55, is charged with 13 counts of production of child pornography, conspiracy to produce child pornography and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Also on trial are former Kelly associates Derrel McDavid and Milton “June” Brown, who, according to the indictment, schemed to buy back incriminating sex tapes that had been taken from Kelly’s collection and hide years of alleged sexual abuse of underage girls.
Before the prosecution rests, jurors are expected to hear from two more women who say Kelly sexually abused them when they were underage. The trial’s first week focused on “Jane,” who identified herself as the girl being sexually abused by the then-superstar in three separate videos from the 1990s.
One of those videos became the subject of Kelly’s 2008 Cook County trial, during which he was acquitted of child pornography charges because, prosecutors now allege, Kelly and his associates went to great lengths to keep “Jane” quiet and recover other incriminating footage.
Witnesses last week largely focused on those efforts. Three people tested that Kelly’s team paid them to bring him videos of his homemade child pornography while he was awaiting his Cook County trial. Defense attorneys, during lengthy cross-examinations, have challenged their stories as inconsistent and tried to paint them as unreliable extortionists.