In A Post-Weinstein World, This Journalist Is Still Begging People To Do Something About R. Kelly

Journalist Jim DeRogatis is probably not the first name you think of when you think of the music industry. But as the journalist who covers R. Kelly's alleged crimes, DeRogatis has long been waging what feels like a one-man crusade against a predatory musician and the industry that inexplicably shields him. DeRogatis' dogged commitment to exposing the truth about R. Kelly is noteworthy.

 

Jim DeRogatis' roots in music journalism extend back to his high school years. When he was a senior at a Jersey City Catholic school, he secured an interview with music critic Lester Bangs. The interview would be Bangs' last; he OD'd two weeks later. But the experience was a seminal one for DeRogatis, who went on to graduate from NYU and work at some of the biggest music publications in the world. He's never been afraid to tell the truth, and he's never been hesitant to give his opinion — both of which have made him the perfect person to try and hold R. Kelly and the music industry bigwigs that protect him — responsible.

 

Keep reading for some fascinating facts about Jim DeRogatis and the R. Kelly case.


  • R. Kelly Calls Out DeRogatis In His 19-Minute Track 'I Admit'

    On July 23, 2018, R. Kelly dropped a 19-minute track titled "I Admit." The song addresses many of the accusations against him, including his alleged adult pleasure cult and misconduct with minors. He also claims he was sexually abused as a child.

    Kelly calls out DeRogatis on the seventh verse of the song, saying "To Jim DeRogatis, whatever your name is/ You been trying to destroy me for 25 whole years/Writing the same stories over and over again/Off my name, you done went and made yourself a career."

  • He Was A Witness In R. Kelly's 2008 Explicit Underage Content Trial

    He Was A Witness In R. Kelly's 2008 Explicit Underage Content Trial
    Photo: Miami Police Department / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    DeRogatis was called to testify when Kelly's case finally went to trial in May of 2008. But DeRogatis was not the most cooperative witness. First, Kelly's lawyers demanded DeRogatis be slapped with charges for viewing explicit content featuring minors because he allegedly made a copy of the "pee tape" before turning it over to police. But according to CNN, his refusal to testify wasn't about protecting himself or protecting Kelly, but about protecting his own rights as a journalist.

    DeRogatis cited an Illinois law that governs reporters's rights and the First and Fifth Amendments of the US Constitution in refusing to answer questions Wednesday.

    DeRogatis read the statement more than a dozen times in response to questions, including whether he once made a copy of the tape at the center of the trial.

  • He Received The Tape From An Anonymous Source

    He Received The Tape From An Anonymous Source
    Photo: Nicholas Ballasy / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    In 2002, DeRogatis received another anonymous tip, and this one cracked his ongoing Kelly reporting wide open. It was the infamous "pee tape," in which Kelly supposedly urinates into the mouth of a 14-year-old girl. DeRogatis and Chicago Sun-Times editors turned the tape over to the police. Kelly was charged — though he tried for years to postpone the trial for as long as possible and somehow succeeded.

    He stood trial in 2008 and categorically denied all charges, but DeRogatis never backed down and kept reporting on the case.

  • He Was Shot At For His R. Kelly Exposé

    He Was Shot At For His R. Kelly Exposé
    Photo: Andrew Steinmetz / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 2.0

    In February of 2002, the Chicago Sun-Times published a story by DeRogatis and Abdon M. Pallasch, the paper's legal affairs reporter. In it, the authors — prompted by the "pee tape" DeRogatis had received earlier in the day — reported on the law enforcement investigation into Kelly. But the evening DeRogatis and Pallasch's story ran, someone shot at DeRogatis' home as he, his wife, and two other people were watching a movie.

    DeRogatis was unfazed. He said:

    I'm from Jersey. I figured if they were trying to do more than make a statement, it wouldn't have been the front window... It was just like, "Boy, that’s weird. This is really weird."

  • He Broke The Story About R. Kelly's Alleged Cult

    He Broke The Story About R. Kelly's Alleged Cult
    Photo: Twitter Trends 2019 / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    DeRogatis' dedication to the Kelly story didn't begin or end with that incriminating videotape. In July of 2017, Buzzfeed published DeRogatis' investigation into an alleged cult run by Kelly. Citing a wealth of named sources as well as unnamed ones, the story painted a shocking, disturbing portrait of a shocking and disturbed man. Kelly is alleged to be keeping young women against their will in what the women's parents say is a cult.

    As DeRogatis' reported,

    Six women live in properties rented by Kelly in Chicago and the Atlanta suburbs and he controls every aspect of their lives: dictating what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep, and how they engage in ... encounters that he records.

    One mother, who briefly saw her daughter after the latter fell under Kelly's alleged sway, said, "It was as if she was brainwashed... She just kept saying she's in love and [Kelly] is the one who cares for her." All of the women supposedly being held against their will, as well as Kelly himself, denied the allegations.

  • He's Still Reporting On R. Kelly

    He's Still Reporting On R. Kelly
    Photo: Andrew Steinmetz / Flickr / CC-BY-SA 2.0

    Jim DeRogatis has been reporting on R. Kelly's supposed crimes for more than 17 years. In 2000, while working at the Chicago Sun-Times, DeRogatis reviewed Kelly's album TP2.com. After the review was published, DeRogatis received an anonymous fax, which read, in part:

    Robert's problem is young girls... I've known Robert for many years and I've tried to get him to get help, but he just won't do it. So I'm telling you about it hoping that you or someone at your newspaper will write an article about it and then Robert will have no choice but to get help and stop hurting the people he's hurting.

    DeRogatis responded by ramping up his own investigations and writing numerous articles about R. Kelly's alleged crimes. R. Kelly's "issues" may have largely disappeared from the public spotlight following his 2008 acquittal, but that's not stopping DeRogatis. He is still committed to raising the voices of the purported victims, even if it seems R. Kelly, law enforcement, and the music industry have stopped listening.