During R. Kelly’s 2008 child pornography trial, a man named Damon Pryor testified that he’d been told that the tape at the center of that court proceeding—one that pretty clearly showed Kelly having sex with and urinating on an underage girl—had been fabricated by two men from Kansas City named Chuck and Keith. Pryor’s ex-girlfriend Lisa Van Allen, who Pryor alleged was the source of this information, forcefully denied that claim. In her own testimony, Van Allen said that Kelly had offered to pay her $250,000 to retrieve an entirely different sex tape—one that featured Kelly, Van Allen, and the same underage girl at the center of the 2008 trial. Van Allen said she’d stolen that tape from Kelly’s duffel bag and had then given it to a guy by the name of Keith who lived in Kansas City.
When I was in Chicago covering Kelly’s trial, these Chuck-and-Keith-related machinations were a bizarre and tantalizing sideshow. At one point, the two men announced that they were coming to the city for a tell-all press conference. “The truth lies in Kansas!” Charles “Chuck” Freeman told the Chicago Sun-Times in a phone interview. Keith Murrell added, “Everything will come out when we get to Chicago. It will be big news.” I remember hanging out with another reporter one night, waiting for a phone call about when and where this explosive presser was going to happen. It never did. Chuck and Keith didn’t tell the media what they knew and they never testified during the trial. R. Kelly was acquitted on June 13, 2008.