R Kelly trial verdict in Chicago ends Jim DeRogatis' crusade for victims

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Thursday, September 15, 2022
R Kelly verdict ends Jim DeRogatis' crusade for his victims
The R. Kelly verdict in his Chicago trial for child pornography ends journalist Jim DeRogatis' two-decade crusade on behalf of the singer's victims.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Jim DeRogatis was the first journalist to cover the allegations that R&B superstar R. Kelly had been abusing underage girls. Kelly's conviction in Chicago is the culmination of his fight to get their voices heard.

"It was the women, it was always about the women," he said. "They trusted me to tell their stories."

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For more than 20 years, DeRogatis has turned his career into a crusade. Wednesday, the New Yorker contributor and Columbia College associate professor can put a punctuation point on this long chapter.

"No one has ever been convicted of the width and depth and breadth of the crimes of Robert Sylvester Kelly," DeRogatis said.

The child pornography charges that Kelly was convicted of Wednesday began with a tape that the then-Sun Times reporter anonymously received in 2002.

"It was the most horrifying thing I've ever seen in my life," he said. "It's 26 minutes and 39 seconds long."

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ABC7 Legal Analyst Gil Soffer said the video was key to the conviction.

"There was simply no denying and the witness, the victim that appeared on that tape, this time, took the stand and this time gave testimony that was credible. That is what lead to this outcome," Soffer said.

DeRogatis' reporting on that tape led to Kelly's initial indictment on child pornography charges. He said the names and stories of every victim he met are burned into his memory.

"Those women deserved to be heard and believed, and they were, but it's a little too late," he said.

DeRogatis said he hopes that these women can now begin healing, knowing the R&B singer will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars.