CHICAGO — After failing to appear in court on Tuesday (June 3), Chicago Sun-Times reporter Jim DeRogatis was ordered once again to appear in court and testify as a material witness for the defense in R. Kelly’s child-pornography trial. The defense also gave notice that they’re planning to call a second impeachment witness against Lisa Van Allen , who testified on Monday that she had participated in three-way sexual encounters with the singer and the allegedly underage girl at the heart of the case.
Judge Vincent Gaughan nearly issued a warrant for DeRogatis’ arrest, since he’d already approved a subpoena compelling the reporter to appear. “I feel like we’re going around in circles,” Kelly defense attorney Marc Martin said. However, after Sun-Times attorney Damon Dunn told the court that he was in the process of appealing that decision, Gaughan said he would give DeRogatis “the benefit of the doubt” before finding him in contempt of court. “I don’t know what his reason is for not showing today,” Gaughan said, “but I’m ordering him to come in tomorrow.”
THE R. KELLY TRIAL: IN BRIEF
Status of Trial
What’s at Stake?
For full coverage of the ongoing R. Kelly case, see The R. Kelly Trial Reports.
DeRogatis (along with Abdon Pallasch) first broke the story of the alleged Kelly sex tape in February 2002, when he received it from what he’s called an anonymous source. “He could have been editorializing or protecting the source,” Gaughan pointed out. But since Martin said he wasn’t seeking information about that source, the judge said reporter’s privilege wouldn’t apply in this case. “You’re protecting something nobody’s after,” the judge told Dunn.
The subpoena ordering DeRogatis’ testimony also compels him to turn over his notes, but Gaughan said he would inspect those first before letting the defense see them, to make sure there is no source material or any documentation leading to the source.
Meanwhile, the defense has another witness besides Damon Pryor that they’re planning to call to undermine the testimony of Van Allen: a woman named Adelina Prado, who Van Allen mentioned in cross-examination on Monday when a picture of Kelly, Van Allen and Prado together was entered into evidence. Van Allen testified that she had met Prado in 1999, but the last time she had seen her was at Kelly’s house around Thanksgiving of 2006.
“Did you call her and [ask] her to help you engage in a conspiracy or extortion attempt against Kelly?” defense attorney Sam Adam asked.
“No, that is not true,” Van Allen said.
“Did you have a special relationship with her?” Adam asked.
“I don’t understand the question,” Van Allen said.
“I’ll be more specific,” Adam Sr. asked. “After all, we’re all grown-ups here.”
“With Robert, yes,” Van Allen interrupted.
But before Adam could clarify, the lawyer was called into a sidebar, and his line of questioning changed topics when he returned. Based on what had preceded that part of her testimony, however, it seemed likely that he was about to ask if she had also participated in three-way sexual encounters with Prado.
An investigator hired by the defense, John Eierman, questioned Prado following this cross-examination on Monday, and her address and phone number were given to the prosecution. However, the state’s attorneys objected during Tuesday’s hearing that Adam had not given them a summary of Prado’s statement yet.