A witness has testified during R. Kelly’s ongoing trial that the 55-year-old singer offered him $1 million to recover a videotape. According to prosecutors, this alleged videotape showed him performing sexual acts on a minor. Prosecutors say Kelly was agitated to recover the video evidence back into his possession before law enforcement could see it.
The witness is recognized as Charles Freeman, a former merchandising agent for R. Kelly. Freeman has testified he started working with Kelly in the 1990s during the singer’s concert tours. He added that they both became friends before he was hired to recover the tape.
According to Freeman, he got his first call from Kelly early in 2001 and was asked to recover the tapes that were stolen from Kelly. Freeman said he didn’t know what was on the tape until he watched it himself. He was told he would hear from McDavid and Kelly’s private investigator, Jack Paladino, who had offered him a reward.
Back with your @suntimes tweets from the R Kelly trial.
We open with prosecution witness Charles Freeman— who allegedly was promised $1M to find incriminating tapes of Kelly before as he faced charges in early 2000s— being cross-examined by the defensehttps://t.co/KLkb41cjkN
— Andy Grimm (@agrimm34) August 24, 2022
He later met them at a Kansas City hotel and charged $1 million to recover the tape as it seemed important. After a while, they ultimately agreed to pay him the sum. Freeman said that he recovered the videotape in Atlanta, showing Kelly having sex with a young lady. However, Kelly’s associates refused to pay him the agreed sum, and it even ended with a lawsuit which was eventually settled.
He testified on the witness stand that they only presented him with a paper bag stuffed with cash in the Kansas City hotel, but he did not believe the money was complete. He told them, “That ain’t no million dollars.” Freeman said he took the bag with only $75,000 and was promised to get his balance later. He gave Kelly the tape and threatened to go public with the information if the deal was broken.
Furthermore, Freeman also claimed that McDavid threw a bag stuffed with $100,000 into his car window after instructing him to strip naked and get in the pool to prove he wasn’t wearing a wire. Freeman refused to do this but took off his shirt to show he wasn’t wired.
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When asked why he did not mention the tape in two decades, he said it was because of money. “Because the police wasn’t going to pay me a million dollars.” Moreso, Freeman said McDavid had approached him again after about two years to recover another tape. However, he refused to do it unless he would be paid in seven figures. He said he told McDavid, “If I gotta recover another tape, you gotta pay me another million dollars.”
Freeman was recalled to the witness stand on Wednesday, and Kelly’s attorneys continuously found inconsistencies in his testimony from years ago. Brindley, McDavid’s attorney, constantly brought out discrepancies in both testimonies from Freeman. Freeman is testifying under an immunity deal since he not only knew about the nature of the sex tapes but made copies of them to get his promised fee.
Charles Freeman testified that Kelly reached out to him in 2001 to ask him to hunt down the recording. Freeman also explained how he pressured Kelly and his associates for years to pay him the full $1 million after Freeman found and returned the tape.
— PIX11 News (@PIX11News) August 24, 2022
Kelly’s lead defense attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, said Freeman’s testimony is an “ever-changing story,” also pointing out discrepancies in what he’s said on the record. Kelly is on trial on a 13-count indictment, including child pornography and obstruction of justice charges. According to Associated Press, he is also facing charges of using witness intimidation to influence the verdict of his 2008 child pornography trial. He was acquitted that year after being accused of carrying around a bag full of homemade child pornography,
The trial is expected to last for a month, and testimonies from more women who accuse Kelly of sexually abusing them when they were girls are also expected. The singer is serving a 30-year sentence for racketeering and sex trafficking charges. A new guilty conviction could add more time to his original sentence. Two of his associates, McDavid and former assistant Milton Brown are also on trial with him.