CHICAGO — Closing arguments began Monday in R. Kelly’s child pornography and obstruction of justice trial, with prosecutors again telling jurors that the disgraced R&B superstar, with the help of his two co-defendants, sexually abused underage girls and sought to cover up his actions over nearly two decades. 

“Robert Kelly abused many girls over many years,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Pozolo said. “He committed horrible crimes against children and he didn’t do it alone.” 

During her roughly two-hour closing argument, Pozolo went over each of the 13 counts brought against Kelly more than three years ago. Charged with the singer are his former business manager, Derrel McDavid, and a former assistant, Milton “June” Brown. 

Arguments are expected to continue into Tuesday. Upon completion, U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber will give jurors their instructions before deliberations begin. A verdict could be reached this week. 

A federal grand jury in Chicago indicted Kelly in July 2019, accusing him of producing and receiving child pornography, while also enticing minors to engage in illegal sexual activity. 

McDavid and Brown are charged with one count of conspiracy to receive child pornography. McDavid also faces two counts of receiving child pornography and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice related to Kelly’s 2008 child pornography trial in Cook County. 

Prosecutors allege Kelly and those in his inner circle paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years in an effort to track down video tapes that Kelly made that allegedly show him engaging in sexual activity with underage victims. 

Pozolo reminded jurors of the testimony of four witnesses who said that Kelly engaged in sexual contact with them while they were underage: “Jane,” “Nia,” “Tracy” and “Pauline.” 

“They opened up old wounds to tell you about what happened to them and who did it to them,” Pozolo said. 

After 20 years of denials, Jane — Kelly’s former “goddaughter” — testified that she was the girl seen in the tape at the center of Kelly’s 2008 child pornography trial. She said that Kelly — 13 years her senior — took her virginity when she was 15 years old and the two engaged in sexual behavior “hundreds” of times while she was a minor. 

Kelly and McDavid, prosecutors allege, urged Jane and her family to lie to investigators who were probing Kelly’s sexual impropriety in the early 2000s. Testifying to a Cook County grand jury in 2002, Jane denied having any sort of sexual relationship with Kelly. 

Jane testified that, when she was 14, McDavid set up a meeting at a hotel in Oak Park in which Kelly confessed to her parents that he was having a sexual relationship with Jane. She said Kelly broke down in tears and begged Jane’s father — a guitarist who played for Kelly — for forgiveness. Jane’s father, identified as “Brandon,” told Kelly, “I can’t help you,” Jane said. 

Jane’s mother, “Susan,” testified that McDavid was in the room when Kelly started weeping, though McDavid denied that when he testified in his defense last week.  

After that meeting, Kelly sent Jane and her family on a weeks-long trip to Mexico and the Bahamas, Jane said.  

In the first four weeks of the trial, prosecutors invoked Brown far less often than Kelly and McDavid. Monday, though, Pozolo pointed to testimony from Jane in which she said she got a tattoo of Kelly’s name while out of the country. When she and her family returned, Kelly instructed Brown to take Jane to a home where her new tattoo was covered up.  

Brown’s attorney, Mary Judge, told jurors that federal prosecutors intentionally distorted witness testimony in an attempt to mislead jurors. Brown, she said, was not involved in any conspiracy and was little more than an assistant Kelly.

“They are trying to create a fictional bond that didn’t exist,” Judge said. “Milton was an assistant doing his job.”

On the witness stand for three days last week, McDavid described how another government witness, Charles Freeman, tried for years to extort Kelly after Freeman came to possess a tape that showed Kelly engaged in sex acts with two females.  

One of those two females, Lisa Van Allen, said she removed the tape from Kelly’s collection and sent it to a friend in Missouri, Keith Murrell, after she learned the video showed her and Kelly in a threesome with 14-year-old Jane. 

McDavid’s lead defense attorney, Beau Brindley, who also delivered his closing argument Monday, sought to portray Van Allen and Freeman as serial liars with shifting stories looking to line their pockets with Kelly’s money. Brindley also insisted that the tape in question did not include Jane. Instead, that tape — which prosecutors don’t know the location of — featured Kelly and his wife having a threesome with Van Allen. 

“The tape Derrel was involved with … Jane wasn’t on it,” Brindley said. “Lisa lied about the content and we proved it.” 

Brindley also characterized Freeman as “talentless, tactless T-shirt man” who worked for years to extort Kelly. 

“Chuck was caught in lies that can’t be denied,” Brindley said. 

McDavid said he paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars to recover several tapes from Freeman, Van Allen and Murrell, though McDavid said he gave those tapes to Kelly’s former lawyers and he never watched any of them. Pozolo said Monday that McDavid was lying. 

“What McDavid told you is not true,” Pozolo said. “He lied when he said he never saw the tape Freeman recovered for them in 2001.” 

After Brindley addressed jurors, Kelly’s attorney Jennifer Bonjean again motioned for a mistrial — at least her third of the trial — arguing that Brown’s and McDavid’s defenses indirectly implicated Kelly as guilty. Leinenweber denied the motion. 

Bonjean will deliver her closing argument Tuesday morning before jurors start deliberating.