You are currently viewing Jim DeRogatis Soulless

Jim DeRogatis Soulless

Jim DeRogatis ended his talk Friday at the Seminary Co-op on a slightly deflated note. “The book’s a complete flop.

We have printed 31,700 copies and sold 1300 since June. And that’s with being on Terry Gross!”

Over the preceding hour, DeRogatis had made a compelling case for why the audience of about 20 people should care about “Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly,” which he was there to discuss.

Released earlier this summer, “Soulless” is a thorough account of the alleged crimes of the R&B star R. Kelly, known for hits like “I Believe I Can Fly,” and “Ignition (Remix).” Kelly grew up on the South Side and briefly attended Kenwood Academy.

DeRogatis has covered the singer’s relationships with underage women since 2000, the year a mysterious letter was faxed to his desk at the Sun-Times, where he was then the paper’s music critic.

A few days earlier, he had reviewed R. Kelly’s newest album, “”

The fax—he’s never figured out who sent it, though he suspects it’s someone who worked for the singer—reads, in part: “You compared him to Marvin Gaye.

Well, I guess Marvin Gaye had problems, too, but I don’t think they were like Robert’s…. Robert’s problem, you see, is underage girls.”

The letter led to a front-page story about a month later, in which DeRogatis and Abdon Pallasch, a fellow Sun-Times journalist (whom DeRogatis described as a “Polish-Irish leprechaun”), reported on allegations that Kelly had “used his position of fame and influence…to meet girls as young as 15 and have sex with them.”

A little over a year later, Jim DeRogatis received a package, again from someone anonymous—this one contained a pornographic video allegedly showing Kelly having sex with and urinating on a fourteen-year-old girl.

DeRogatis turned it over to the police; Kelly went to trial and was acquitted in 2008.

During the next decade, DeRogatis occasionally surfaced to remind the public of Kelly’s actions.

In 2013, for instance, he wrote a column for WBEZ criticizing the Pitchfork Music Festival’s decision to book Kelly as a headline act.

But it wasn’t until 2017, when he published a long investigative piece in BuzzFeed detailing Kelly’s apparent “cult” for teenage girls, that the issue regained prominence. Read more