Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Articles [NAJP]

Critical Witness Update

A great deal of what I'm about to convey is available in the Joe Levy comment on my original entry regarding Jim DeRogatis and R. Kelly just below. But not everybody reads comments, and my command of the facts in that entry was so partial that I thought it best to pass along the Bill Wyman email copied in full below. Wyman was a colleague and radio partner of DeRogatis in Chicago for many years. He makes clear what I didn't know, which is that Kelly's claims of DeRogatis's hostility were based on DeRogatis's investigative reporting. He also suggests that the ploy of making him testify is intended partly to trap DeRogatis in the quicksand of child pornography laws. This is an important story I hope arts journalists with regular beats pick up.

Forgive this mass email but I wanted to bring your attention to what's going on with reporter Jim DeRogatis in the R. Kelly case.

The judge has ruled he must testify. Jim didn't show up for court today, and the judge threatened to put him in jail. The judge ultimately backed down, but reiterated he wanted to see Jim in court tomorrow. I have no inside information, but I assume that if Jim doesn't show up tomorrow the judge will issue a warrant for his arrest.

You can read the background details on my blog, at, or in this piece on the Huffington Post:

Jim and the Sun-Times can take care of themselves, of course, but I think it's odd how little attention this case has gotten.

Jim is invariably referred to as a music critic; that's true, as far as it goes, but in fact his original piece on R. Kelly's sexual proclivities was a fine piece of investigative journalism. At heart, it was about a path of destruction wrought by a sexual predator through the lives of who knows how many young Chicago girls.

The tape that came to him was part of his investigative work and should not be subject to judicial scrutiny; there are legal implications for Jim, and while there is little chance that he will be forced to reveal sources per se the judge has already said he may be forced to turn over notes as well.

My request: Please keep an eye on this case, and pass this note along to along to anyone you know who might bring more public attention to a case that's not getting enough.


Update: Behind the story yet again (I'll never be a real blogger), I am informed though haven't been able to fully confirm that DeRogatis did appear in court without the jury present for 10 minutes during which, citing Illinois shield laws as well as the First and Fifth Amendments, he declined to answer most or all questions. The judge then told him he would not need to testify but insisted he turn over notes from an interview with another witness, which the Sun-Times then ran in full. Here's a good link.


By Dean Jones on June 15, 2008 1:31 PM

R. Kelly: "Innocent." Raging.

By Michael Smith on July 6, 2008 11:13 PM

Can you post a copy of your syllabus, or the readings you assign? Just curious. Also, did you see the Feelies? Will you review?

By MilagroLGuerrera on February 8, 2011 8:52 AM

I am not so versatile to be fit to set down top stuff like you do but I am trying to pay it back so hoepfully this will prompt you a smile or make you chortle or at the very least give you a thought for the day? :

I respect your opinion. Just don't want to hear it!

Articles, June 5, 2008

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