Who’s Who in R. Kelly’s Chicago trial?

The R&B singer will face another Chicago jury on Aug. 15, 2022. Here’s who he is and who else will be in the courtroom throughout the trial.

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Courtroom sketch shows R&B singer R. Kelly, center, accompanied by his lawyers Sam Adam Jr. and Sam Adam Sr. right, in court with Judge Vincent Gaughan in the Cook County Criminal Court Building Friday, June 13, 2008, in Chicago.

A courtroom sketch shows R&B singer R. Kelly, center, accompanied by his lawyers Sam Adam Jr. and Sam Adam Sr. right, listening to the court clerk read the verdict in his child pornography trial before judge Vincent Gaughan in the Cook County Criminal Court Building Friday, June 13, 2008, in Chicago. The jury found him not guilty on all counts in the trial.

L.D. Chukman/AP

Embattled R&B singer R. Kelly will be back on trial in a Chicago courtroom this summer, and this time, he’ll be surrounded by new lawyers, prosecutors and judge.

Here are some key people involved in the trial.

R. Kelly

Robert Sylvester Kelly, 55, is a Grammy-winning singer/songwriter from Chicago known for hits like “Bump N’ Grind,” “Step in the Name of Love” and “Ignition (Remix).” He won three Grammys in February 1998 for the anthem “I Believe I Can Fly” from the “Space Jam” soundtrack.

He also produced “You Are Not Alone” for Michael Jackson and performed at the opening ceremonies for the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City in 2002. Later that year, a Cook County grand jury indicted Kelly on 21 counts of child pornography. He would later be acquitted at trial in 2008.

But Cook County prosecutors filed new aggravated criminal sexual abuse charges against him in February 2019. Then, in July 2019, federal prosecutors revealed their own indictments against Kelly in Chicago and Brooklyn. The Chicago indictment alleges that Kelly obstructed justice in his 2008 trial in Cook County.

In New York, Kelly was charged with racketeering. The indictment there alleged that Kelly led an “enterprise” made up of his managers, bodyguards, drivers and other employees who helped him recruit women and girls for illegal sex.

In September 2021, a New York jury found Kelly guilty of all nine counts, including racketeering, on their second day of deliberations. He is now serving a 30-year prison sentence.


Defense Attorneys

Jennifer Bonjean took over as R. Kelly’s lead defense attorney in federal court after Kelly’s conviction in New York. She grew up in Valparaiso, Ind., and attended Loyola University Chicago School of Law. She began her own law firm, the Bonjean Law Group, in August 2007. Though she is now based in New York, she is a veteran of Chicago’s courtrooms and is most well known here for her work in wrongful conviction cases.

However, Bonjean’s career soared to new heights when she helped free actor Bill Cosby in 2021. She also now represents Larry Hoover, founder of the Gangster Disciples street gang, who is fighting to undo his federal life sentence. That sentence was handed down in 1998 by U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber, the judge who will preside over Kelly’s trial.

Beau Brindley represents Derrel McDavid, a co-defendant and former employee of Kelly’s. Brindley is an aggressive veteran of Chicago’s federal court. His clients here have included Gregory “Bowlegs” Chester, leader of the Hobos street gang. Brindley faced his own perjury and obstruction-of-justice charges in an indictment filed in 2014. The next year, he was acquitted at trial by U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber, who is now presiding over the Kelly case.

Vadim Glozman also represents Kelly co-defendant McDavid. Glozman began his legal career working alongside Edward Genson, a legendary Chicago defense attorney who represented Kelly in his 2008 state-court child pornography trial and died in 2020. Glozman began working for Genson as a law clerk five years later. Glozman’s clients have included Dorothy Brown, the former Cook County circuit court clerk who was long targeted by federal investigators but never criminally charged.

Mary Higgins Judge of the Federal Defender Program represents Kelly co-defendant Milton “June” Brown.


The Prosecutors

The trial team from U.S. Attorney John Lausch’s office will include Elizabeth Pozolo, Jeannice Appenteng, Jason Julien and Brian Williamson. Pozolo has been with the office since 2014 and helped prosecute a man who got a life sentence for running a sex-trafficking business involving at least 12 women and children. Appenteng joined the office in 2015 and her work has included prosecuting street-gang, drug and carjacking cases. Julien joined in 2019 and is assigned to the racketeering case revolving around the 2020 murder of rapper FBG Duck. Williamson just joined the office this summer.


Judge

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber is an 85-year-old Joliet native nominated to the bench by President Ronald Reagan in 1985. Earlier, he served as a member of the Illinois General Assembly. In 1998, he gave a life sentence to Larry Hoover, founder of the Gangster Disciples street gang. Hoover is now trying to have that sentence undone with the help of Jennifer Bonjean, R. Kelly’s lead defense attorney. Leinenweber is also presiding over another high-profile criminal case in Chicago’s federal court, involving four people accused of trying to bribe former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. A trial in that case had to be rescheduled for March in part because of Kelly’s trial.


Co-defendants

Derrel McDavid is a former business manager of Kelly’s who worked closely with attorneys during Kelly’s state-court prosecution in the early 2000s. The federal indictment in Chicago alleges McDavid joined Kelly in the conspiracy to obstruct justice. He is accused of agreeing to intimidate and pay off victims and witnesses and helping collect videos of Kelly engaged in sex acts with minors in order to hide them from investigators. McDavid is also charged in the child pornography conspiracy and with receiving child pornography.

Milton “June” Brown is a former Kelly employee who is charged with Kelly and McDavid in a child pornography conspiracy that allegedly lasted from 2001 until 2007. An alleged victim is expected to testify that Kelly kept VHS sex tapes of himself and the alleged victim in a gym bag which he took with him almost everywhere he went. Kelly only let certain people he trusted, including Brown, carry the bag, according to the expected testimony.


Others

Minor 1 is one of five alleged victims in Chicago’s federal case against Kelly. She was also the alleged victim in Kelly’s state-court child pornography trial in 2008. Jurors who voted to acquit Kelly then pointed to her refusal to testify in that case. This time, she is expected to take the stand and say she began having sex with Kelly when she was 13 or 14 in 1997 or 1998, that Kelly told her and her parents they were either with him or against him, that Kelly scared her family and she gave false testimony in front of a Cook County grand jury.

Minors 3-6 are the additional four victims in Chicago’s federal case against Kelly. They allegedly met Kelly between 1996 and 1999, when they were between the ages of 13 and 16. Kelly allegedly engaged in sex acts with all four when they were under 18.

Lisa Van Allen testified in Kelly’s state-court child pornography trial in 2008 and is expected to take the stand again. She is expected to testify that she met Kelly in Georgia in 1997 or 1998, soon began a sexual relationship with him, and engaged in threesomes with Kelly and Minor 1 that were videotaped. She’s also expected to say she was offered and paid thousands of dollars to help recover a tape depicting her having sex with Kelly and Minor 1, which she had taken and given to someone else. She was also told to deny having sex with Minor 1. Kelly’s original federal indictment in Chicago included Van Allen as a victim and identified her as Minor 2, but a later superseding indictment removed her as a victim.

Edward Genson was a legendary Chicago defense attorney who represented Kelly in his state-court child pornography trial in 2008 during which federal prosecutors allege Kelly and others obstructed justice. Genson died in 2020 but told the Chicago Sun-Times in 2019 Kelly was “guilty as hell.” During his more than 40-year career, he also represented former Chicago Sun-Times owner Conrad Black, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and other political figures ensnared in corruption probes. Derrel McDavid lawyer Vadim Glozman began his legal career working with Genson, but not until years after Kelly’s 2008 trial.

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