The Settlement Factory That Kept R. Kelly’s Accusers Quiet

For the previous 4 weeks, throughout the racketeering and sex-trafficking trial of R. Kelly, on the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, prosecutors have tried to make the case that Kelly sexually abused ladies and ladies from throughout the nation, throughout a interval that stretched from the mid-nineteen-nineties to his arrest in 2019. (He has pleaded not responsible and denied the fees in opposition to him.) During this identical interval, Kelly turned a dominant voice in well-liked music, promoting 100 million data, and rising as some of the profitable singers, songwriters, and producers within the historical past of R. & B. In 2002, he was indicted on child-pornography fees, however the case, introduced by the state of Illinois, took six years to go to trial. It was narrowly focussed on a fourteen-year-old woman in a single videotape, and neither the woman nor her dad and mom testified. Kelly was subsequently acquitted. How is it that he’s solely now dealing with intensive felony fees for his alleged crimes?

Part of the reply is that Kelly has silenced lots of his accusers by paying them money settlements in trade for his or her signatures on nondisclosure agreements, a tactic utilized by rich and highly effective predators resembling Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby. Many of these agreements had been crafted by Susan E. Loggans, an lawyer who’s cited as “Lawyer No. 1” in a movement by the Eastern District of New York to confess further proof into the court docket document. Over the years, Loggans has change into the go-to lawyer for complaints in opposition to Kelly, operating what I’ve referred to in my previous reporting as a “settlement factory.” (Loggans disputed this characterization, noting that the overwhelming majority of personal-injury instances finish in settlements.) Prosecutors have informed the decide that they wish to name Loggans or her longtime assistant, Kim Jones, to testify in Kelly’s trial, however that each ladies, who dwell exterior the state, “are insisting that they cannot travel to New York because of the pandemic.” Loggans, particularly, has stated that she wants to remain house so as to deal with her aged mom. (When reached for remark, Loggans stated that she had not but been requested by the prosecution to return to New York to testify.)

Loggans is now seventy-one years previous and lives in Florida together with her husband, knowledgeable golfer. But, for many of her profession, she has been based mostly in Chicago, the place she has cultivated a flamboyant media presence. Her Web web site payments her as the most effective personal-injury attorneys within the nation, and in addition notes that she holds a Ph.D. in psychology. In 1994, she spoke to a journalist about elevating present horses and being a pilot, claiming that she used to fly from Chicago to California to get her hair minimize. She made headlines earlier this 12 months for submitting two lawsuits in opposition to the Chicago Blackhawks hockey staff, alleging {that a} former assistant coach had sexually assaulted gamers. (He has denied the allegations.) She granted a number of interviews about these fits, however has lengthy averted talking intimately about Kelly; citing nondisclosure agreements, she has declined to say a lot in regards to the claims that she has introduced in opposition to him, moreover the truth that they’ve been “numerous.”

Loggans entered the R. Kelly enterprise in 1996, when her agency filed a civil swimsuit in opposition to the singer on behalf of a younger lady named Tiffany Hawkins. In the lawsuit, Hawkins claimed to have met Kelly in 1991, when she was fifteen and he was twenty-four. When I spoke to Hawkins in 2019, she informed me that she had been an aspiring singer; she had recorded backing vocals on Kelly’s debut album, “Born Into the 90’s,” and had been a backing singer for Aaliyah, Kelly’s protégé, who turned one in all her shut mates. (Kelly illegally married Aaliyah in 1994, when she was fifteen.) Hawkins alleged that she and different minors participated in group intercourse with Kelly, and that she lastly ended her relationship with him in 1994, 4 months earlier than her eighteenth birthday. Two months later, she stated, she tried suicide.

Hawkins continued to listen to tales about Kelly and underage ladies, and, in 1996, she determined that he wanted to be stopped. She sought recommendation from Demetrius Smith, his longtime buddy and former highway supervisor, who had lately damaged ties with the star. Smith informed me that he introduced Hawkins to Susan E. Loggans & Associates, as a result of he had seen Loggans’s splashy adverts. A younger affiliate on the agency, Ian Alexander, carried out Hawkins’s consumption interview. He was an enormous music fan, and he was shocked by what Hawkins informed him about Kelly. Loggans had no concept who R. Kelly was, however she agreed to just accept Hawkins as a consumer.

Susan E. Loggans is cited as “Lawyer No. 1” in a movement by the Eastern District of New York to confess further proof into the court docket document.

Hawkins wished to press felony fees, and Alexander stated that he contacted the Illinois State’s Attorney Office on her behalf. But, in accordance with Hawkins and Alexander, the workplace selected to not pursue the case. (“I was a young Black girl,” Hawkins informed me. “Who cared?”) Alexander then helped Hawkins file a civil swimsuit in opposition to Kelly, his label, and his administration firm claiming that the singer “had a propensity to have sexual contact with minors” and searching for damages of ten million {dollars}.

Hawkins gave a seven-and-a-half-hour deposition, after which Kelly’s attorneys supplied her 200 and fifty thousand {dollars} to settle. It was solely their first provide, however Alexander stated that Loggans pressured him to get Hawkins to take the deal. (Loggans denied this.) Her agency then stored a 3rd of the cash, which is normal apply. Hawkins informed me that she by no means even met Loggans.

That lawsuit set the template for a lot of what adopted throughout the subsequent two and a half a long time. Two extra fits adopted, in 2001 and 2002, on behalf of two alleged victims in Chicago, each of whom claimed that Kelly had had sexual contact with them once they had been minors. Those instances had been additionally settled out of court docket. Subsequent instances had been settled with no publicly filed lawsuit: Loggans would inform Kelly’s attorneys of her purchasers’ claims, after which negotiate a settlement between the 2 events, maintaining the fees out of civil court docket, and in addition out of the information.

The prosecutors in Kelly’s trial have cited 4 federal instances to assist the argument that nondisclosure agreements shouldn’t stop victims from talking out for the general public good, together with a ruling in opposition to Cosby, in 2016, after he sued one in all his victims, Andrea Constand, for talking with prosecutors. As a outcome, two alleged victims whom Loggans represented have testified in Brooklyn. The first, Jane Doe No. 4, claimed that Kelly started sexual contact together with her in 2009, when she was sixteen and he was in his early forties. She informed the court docket, “I got a lawyer because I wanted to press charges”—felony fees—“against him,” however she by no means did. Instead, Loggans struck a one-and-a-half-million-dollar settlement with Kelly’s attorneys in trade for a nondisclosure settlement. (The court docket additionally heard from Courtenay Wilson, a former affiliate at Loggans’s agency, who carried out Jane Doe No. 4’s consumption interview.) The different alleged sufferer, Jane Doe No. 11, testified that she started a consensual sexual relationship with Kelly in 2001, when she was an grownup, and that he knowingly gave her herpes. She stated that she additionally employed Loggans, and the lawyer reached a money settlement for her with Kelly in 2004. At least two extra of Loggans’s former purchasers are cited anonymously within the prosecutors’ movement to confess further proof. It is unclear whether or not they are going to take the stand.

In the twenty-one years by which I’ve reported on Kelly, Loggans has gone on the document simply twice, in conversations spaced almost twenty years aside. “There are two aspects to this,” she informed me within the first, in 2002, referring to the purchasers she represented with claims in opposition to Kelly. “They don’t look at it negatively when it’s happening, they look at it as a positive thing, that R. Kelly is their boyfriend. It’s not until later when he dumps them and then they try to get a job in the music industry that they realize that they’re blackballed. They get older and realize that they screwed up and they fell for it. It’s like any young girl feels when she gets dumped by a guy. At that point they start telling people, ‘Look at this bad thing that happened to me,’ and, when they come to us as a civil lawyer, there’s no benefit to them to bring a criminal case.”

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