‘I am not proud of that’: R. Kelly ex interrogated by singer’s attorney as trial’s second week comes to a close
The cross-examination of Lisa Van Allen came as prosecutors conclude a narrative about efforts to hunt down alleged videos of Kelly sexually abusing a minor during the early 2000s, when he faced prosecution in state court for child pornography.
It didn’t take long for R. Kelly’s fiery defense attorney to attack when she finally got her chance Friday to interrogate one of the R&B superstar’s most prominent, longtime accusers.
Soon after attorney Jennifer Bonjean began to cross-examine Lisa Van Allen, Bonjean asked about an underage girl allegedly involved in an on-tape sexual encounter in 1998 with Kelly, then in his 30s, and Van Allen, then 18.
Bonjean described the girl to Van Allen as “the person you allegedly sexually abused.”
Van Allen quickly broke down and said, “I am not proud of that.”
“I am here to admit to my wrongdoing and to hold him accountable for what he’s done,” Van Allen said, referring to Kelly, before her emotions got the best of her.
Bonjean told Van Allen to “let me know when you have composed yourself” and waited, impatiently, by the courtroom lectern as Van Allen wiped her eyes with tissues and tried to recover.
Before Van Allen even took the witness stand, prosecutors told the judge in Kelly’s latest trial in Chicago that Van Allen had suggested she wouldn’t return to the Dirksen Federal Courthouse. They said federal agents brought Van Allen to the building for Bonjean’s questioning.
On the stand, Van Allen said “I never said I wasn’t coming” to court, and added that, “didn’t want to come, and not coming, are two different things.” She said agents have typically brought her to the building.
The cross-examination of Van Allen came as prosecutors seem to be concluding a narrative about efforts to hunt down alleged videos of Kelly sexually abusing a minor during the early 2000s, when Kelly faced prosecution in state court for child pornography. Prosecutors say he cheated his way to an acquittal then.
In his new trial, Kelly faces charges alleging child pornography, obstruction of justice and the enticement of minors into criminal sexual activity. Also on trial are his former business manager, Derrel McDavid, and former assistant, Milton “June” Brown.
Kelly is already serving a 30-year federal prison sentence for a racketeering conviction last year in New York.
Featured prominently in the Lifetime docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly,” Van Allen told jurors Thursday that she met Kelly in 1998 when she was 18 and came to live with him in Chicago. She said she agreed to have threesomes with Kelly and other people even though she didn’t like it. One person involved in such an encounter was a person referred to in court as “Jane.”
Van Allen said Kelly told her Jane was a neighbor who was 16 years old, but Van Allen realized later that Jane was younger. Jane testified last week that Kelly began to sexually abuse her when she was around 14.
Kelly allegedly videotaped his encounters with Jane and Van Allen. Then, in 2000, Van Allen said she found one such scene on a VHS tape taken from Kelly’s duffle bag. She said she sent the tape to a friend named Keith Murrell.
In 2007, she and Murrell allegedly collected a combined $200,000 from Kelly and McDavid to return the tape. Van Allen also alleged that McDavid said “they should have murked” — or killed — “me from the beginning.”
Full coverage of R. Kelly’s federal trial in Chicago:
- Follow the latest stories from the trial.
- Read more about why this trial is happening in the wake of Kelly’s New York sentence and how it connects to his 2008 Chicago trial.
- Meet the people in the courtroom and view a timeline of Kelly’s alleged crimes.
- Read through the Sun-Times’ original reporting on Kelly, including the story that led to the singer’s first indictment in 2002.
During her cross-examination of Van Allen on Friday, Bonjean alleged that Van Allen’s story is really “all about money.” Van Allen said she didn’t want the tape getting out, and she acknowledged that Murrell told her that celebrity Kimora Lee Simmons wanted to buy the tape for a talk show.
Murrell, who is from Kansas City, Mo., took the stand later Friday. He said he told Van Allen “I can get this sold or something like that” because Van Allen “used to get mad when I play like that.”
Still, Bonjean pounced on Van Allen, pointing out that a talk show wouldn’t buy child pornography. Bonjean alleged the tape really involved Kelly, Van Allen and a “grown woman.”
“I was more concerned with getting it back,” Van Allen said.
Murrell told jurors that, in the early 2000s, Van Allen sent a VHS tape to his mother’s house through FedEx or UPS. He said, “she just wanted me to hold it for her.”
He said he still had the tape in 2007, when people began to reach out to him about it. He said he agreed to take it to Chicago, but also made a partial copy to bring with him on a CD. He said he wound up flunking a lie-detector test given at the request of Kelly’s team about whether he’d made a copy of the tape, but McDavid still gave him $20,000 cash, promising more if he brought back the real tape.
Murrell said he later brought the tape to Chicago, collected $80,000 and a hug from McDavid, and was driven home with a friend in a BMW.