There’s some powerful history bonding Village Voice contributor Jessica Hopper to Jim DeRogatis, the journalist who some 15 years ago as a music critic for the Chicago Sun-Times exposed R. Kelly‘s shocking indiscretions with underage girls. The rapper was later acquitted.
Hopper recalls her feuding with DeRogatis and what it led to:
DeRogatis approached me offline and told me about how one of Kelly’s victims called him in the middle of the night after his Pitchfork [festival] review came out, to thank him for caring when no one else did. He told me of mothers crying on his shoulder, seeing the scars of a suicide attempt on a girl’s wrists, the fear in their eyes. He detailed an aftermath that the public has never had to bear witness to.
DeRogatis, now a teacher at Columbia College and host of a public radio show, remains steadfast. The media has and continues to ignore a story that is right under their noses:
“Rapes, plural. It is on record. Rapes in the dozen. So stop hedging your words, and when you tell me what a brilliant ode to pussy Black Panties is, then realize that the next sentence should say: ‘This, from a man who has committed numerous rapes.’ The guy was a monster! Just say it! We do have a justice system and he was acquitted. OK, fine. And these other women took the civil lawsuit route.”
“He was tried on very narrow grounds. He was tried on a 29-minute, 36-second videotape. He was tried on trading child pornography. He was not tried for rape.”
Hopper is also to be commended. DeRogatis says that he gave other journalists full access to his R. Kelly files and transcripts. But only she has delved deep, writing a lengthy feature story with embedded documentation and generating at press time well over a thousand reader comments.
The most chilling condemnation from DeRogatis goes far beyond the realm of rap music, show business and celebrity culture. He suggests that “the saddest fact I’ve learned is nobody matters less to our society than young black women. Nobody.”
DeRogatis also has this remainder for any journalist today who is too lazy to read court documents or simply too scared to write about such a topic: You cannot be sued for repeating anything that is in a lawsuit or said at a trial.