On Wednesday during his child pornography trial in Chicago, R. Kelly’s defense team attempted to paint a crucial government witness as an extortionist and a liar. Lawyers claimed that the man went to the fallen singer in 2001 and asked Kelly pay him $1 million or that he’d go public with video that would send shockwaves through the music industry—and ultimately the world.
Charles Freeman, a former merchandizing agent for Kelly, was cross-examined for seven hours. He testified on Tuesday that the artist actually went to him, eventually offering Freeman $1 million to recover the infamous sex tape featuring Kelly. In it, he allegedly urinates on a 14-year-old girl.
Kelly’s lead attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, said to Freeman on Wednesday: “Your entire relationship with (Kelly) centered around stealing from him and lying to him.” Later she asked: “You were part of a shakedown scheme, right?” Freeman retorted: “No! I am not a thief.”
Kelly was charged by federal prosecutors with production of child pornography partially based on that recording, in which they claim he can be seen sexually abusing a 14-year-old. In addition, he and co-defendant Derrel McDavid are also accused of rigging Kelly’s 2008 state child pornography trial by coercing witnesses and hiding video evidence.
Freeman also explained that money wasn’t the only reason for agreeing to find the tape. He said he wanted to help his friend, Kelly, whom he had known for over 30 years. Freeman admitted that he kept copies of videos for nearly two decades.
Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison by a federal judge in New York in June on racketeering and sex trafficking charges. If convicted in U.S. District Court in Chicago, he would receive even more time.