Former R. Kelly business manager Derrel McDavid acquitted on all counts
McDavid testified that he followed lawyers’ advice as he helped coordinate payoffs ahead of Kelly’s 2008 child porn trial — payments federal prosecutors alleged was hush money.
Over two days on the witness stand, Derrel McDavid said — repeatedly — that he had hired “the best in the business” to represent his star client, R. Kelly, as the singer faced allegations of sexually abusing underage girls in the early 2000s.
Kelly’s all-star legal team, led by legendary attorney Ed Genson, managed to win acquittal for Kelly at the singer’s 2008 child pornography trial — though more than a decade later, federal prosecutors would say McDavid, Kelly and Kelly’s assistant, Milton “June” Brown, had boosted the defense with an elaborate and costly coverup scheme.
Wednesday, as Judge Harry D. Leinenweber read off a string of not-guilty verdicts for the four counts against him, McDavid shot out of his seat, thrust both arms into the air and wrapped his own attorney, Vadim Glozman, in a bear hug.
The emotion was a stark contrast to the relaxed demeanor the 61-year-old accountant had affected during the five weeks he spent in a federal courtroom, including two days he spent on the witness stand himself. McDavid faced charges of helping coordinate a decades-long cover-up of sexual abuse of minors by Kelly, with the help of Brown, who was also acquitted Wednesday on the single count he faced in the trial.
Kelly was convicted on six of the 13 counts he faced, including producing child pornography.
“I loved Mr. Genson, I loved all my lawyers, all my friends,” McDavid said to a phalanx of cameras in the Dirksen Federal Courthouse lobby after the verdict. “These two men are the heirs to the throne.”
Though he died in 2020, Genson was a key figure in McDavid’s defense. McDavid testified Kelly’s former legal team of Genson, entertainment lawyer Gerry Margolis and private investigator Jack Palladino convinced him that allegations Kelly filmed himself having sex with a 14-year-old girl were just the latest in a string of false allegations during the peak years of Kelly’s stardom in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Margolis and Palladino, too, are now dead.
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.
McDavid pointed out the girl in question, a teen Kelly considered his own “goddaughter,” and her parents all had vehemently denied the accusations to police, a grand jury and Kelly’s lawyers. However, she cooperated with the federal investigation that began in 2019 and, now 37, was the star witness against Kelly this time around.
On the stand, McDavid said he had taken Kelly as a client before the artist began a meteoric rise that included Grammy awards and performances at the Olympics — and had brought in millions of dollars.
At the time of Kelly’s trial in 2008, McDavid admitted he believed in Kelly, his friend and client, but conceded on the stand that what he had learned in the years since parting ways with the star had left him “embarrassed” — though he didn’t say whether he thought Kelly was guilty.
Contributing: David Struett, Emmanuel Camarillo