R. Kelly prosecutor accused of using fake name, private email to communicate with journalist

The claim by attorneys for former Kelly worker Derrel McDavid landed less than two weeks before Kelly is set to go on trial in Chicago’s federal court on Aug. 15.

SHARE R. Kelly prosecutor accused of using fake name, private email to communicate with journalist
R. Kelly walks with supporters out of the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in June 2019.

R. Kelly walks with supporters out of the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in June 2019.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

A one-time lead prosecutor on R. Kelly’s federal case in Chicago used a private email account and fake name to engage in “surreptitious” communications with a prominent journalist, lawyers for a one-time Kelly worker alleged Wednesday.

The attorneys for Derrel McDavid made the claim in a six-page motion filed hours ahead of a morning pretrial conference, during which U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber made several rulings affecting Kelly’s Aug. 15 trial in the case.

Among other things, the judge granted a request to impanel a confidential jury, which means members of the public are not expected to hear jurors’ names during the proceedings.

He also stumbled over the name of the late singer Aaliyah, the protege Kelly married when she was 15 and he was 27.

But left unresolved was the issue raised by McDavid lawyers Beau Brindley and Vadim Glozman. They say the feds on Monday turned over copies of the email correspondence between Assistant U.S. Attorney Angel Krull and Jim DeRogatis, a former Chicago Sun-Times journalist who first helped report on sexual abuse allegations against Kelly. DeRogatis also published a book about Kelly in 2019 titled “Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly.” 

McDavid’s attorneys called DeRogatis a “potential witness” in the case, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeannice Appenteng insisted during Wednesday’s hearing that DeRogatis “is not a witness.”

Brindley told the judge the situation was “very, very strange.” Leinenweber gave prosecutors until the close of business Friday to respond in writing to the claims.

DeRogatis took the stand during Kelly’s 2008 child pornography trial in Cook County courts, but he cited his rights under the First and Fifth Amendments not to testify.

Following Wednesday’s hearing, DeRogatis told the Sun-Times he’s “always trying to cultivate sources” and “never shared anything with the federal prosecutors that hadn’t been published.” He also said, “I never got crap from the federal prosecutors.”

DeRogatis also said he wasn’t surprised by the email address used by Krull. He explained there had always “been a ridiculous amount of skullduggery” when it came to Kelly, and he chalked it up to that.

A spokesman for Chicago’s U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment. Krull is no longer assigned there, and she could not be reached. Later Wednesday, DeRogatis said he had been subpoenaed by McDavid’s legal team.

McDavid’s lawyers allege Krull used the pseudonym “Demetrius Slovenski” and the username “piedpiper312” to create an email account she then used to communicate with DeRogatis in April 2019. They wrote that DeRogatis provided Krull a copy of “Soulless,” which had not yet been released but was based on his prior reporting.

Kelly’s federal indictment in Chicago was filed in July 2019. Charged along with Kelly and McDavid was Milton “June” Brown, another former employee of Kelly’s.

McDavid’s attorneys wrote on April 16, 2019, Krull referenced an earlier conversation with DeRogatis that same day, but the attorneys said they’ve received no report detailing that conversation.

DeRogatis allegedly sent an email two weeks later asking if the book was any help and providing information about “a prominent ‘enabler’” that McDavid’s attorneys thought might have been a reference to McDavid.

“The fact that this information was known to the government for years and only disclosed to the defense less than two weeks before the trial creates — at the very least — the appearance of impropriety, which needs to be investigated,” Brindley and Glozman wrote.

Kelly has already been sentenced to 30 years in prison for using his fame to sexually abuse young fans in a scheme that went on for decades. A federal judge in New York handed down the sentence in June after Kelly’s conviction in a racketeering case there.

However, Kelly still faces serious child pornography and obstruction of justice charges in the separate case here in Chicago.

Prosecutors here say Kelly illegally thwarted the earlier 2008 trial in Cook County that ended in his acquittal. The feds allege he and McDavid agreed to intimidate, threaten, pressure and pay off witnesses in that case.

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