R&B star R. Kelly acquitted in child porn case

R&B star R. Kelly acquitted in child porn case

By MICHAEL TARM, Associated Press Writer Sat Jun 14, 7:22 AM ET

CHICAGO (AP) — For R. Kelly, six years of pretrial delays came down to an agonizing 10 minutes.

As a court official began slowly reading the verdict for each of the 14 counts of child pornography against him, the R&B superstar clutched the hands of his flanking lawyers. He bowed his head and shut his eyes tight, barely moving.

As the official got to the last few counts Friday and it became clear Kelly had won a complete acquittal, tears streamed down the Grammy-winner’s face.

“Thank you, Jesus,” he repeated, over and over again, said one of his attorneys, Sam Adam Jr.

It had taken a jury of nine men and three women around seven hours of deliberations to acquit the 41-year-old singer on charges of videotaping himself having sex with a girl who prosecutors allege was as young as 13.

After the verdicts were read, a visibly stunned Kelly dabbed tears from his face with a handkerchief as he stood up and hugged each of his four attorneys.

The South Side native, who had faced up to 15 years in prison had he been convicted, left the courthouse surrounded by bodyguards. He smiled and waved to dozens of cheering fans before climbing into a waiting SUV.

In the end, jurors said prosecutors didn’t convince them that the female in the video was who they said she was.

“You want to be 100 percent sure it’s Kelly and (the alleged victim),” one juror said. “What we had wasn’t enough.”

Another juror said prosecutors left too many questions unanswered.

“All of us felt very much the grayness of this case,” he said.

None of the five jurors who spoke to reporters after the verdict wanted to be identified.

Kelly, who won the Grammy Award in 1997 for the song “I Believe I Can Fly” and whose biggest hits are raunchy ballads like “Ignition,” didn’t speak to reporters as he left.

But a spokesman released a statement saying Kelly always knew that “when all the facts came out in court, he would be cleared of these terrible charges. … all he wants to do is move forward and put it behind him.”

Kelly and the now 23-year-old alleged victim had denied they were on the sexually graphic videotape at the heart of the case, though neither testified during the monthlong trial.

Testimony throughout the trial centered on whether the R&B superstar was the man who appears the tape, and whether the female who also appears on it was underage.

The jurors — who deliberated for three hours Thursday after closing arguments and for about four hours on Friday — said they remained sharply divided as late as Friday morning. A vote they took just a few hours before the acquittal had seven jurors voting not guilty and five voting guilty. Of the 12 jurors, eight were white and four were black.

Several jurors said one weakness in the prosecution’s case was that neither the alleged victim nor her parents testified.

One juror said he just was not sure the female was who prosecutors said she was or that she was a minor — noting her body appeared too developed. Another said that while he was convinced it was Kelly on the tape, he had doubts about the female.

Asked by a reporter after the trial who the female in the sex tape was if not the alleged victim, Adam responded: “If you find that out, let us know.”

Without the alleged victim, the prosecutors relied in part on a star witness who said she engaged in three-way sex with Kelly and the girl.

Defense attorneys labeled that woman an extortionist, claiming she sought hundreds of thousands of dollars from Kelly in exchange for her silence and stole his $20,000 watch at one point. They also argued that the man on the tape didn’t have a large mole on his back, as Kelly does.

Jurors said the much ballyhooed mole defense rarely came up in deliberations and played no role in their verdict.

The alleged victim’s family also presented a puzzle for the jury; three relatives testified they did not recognize her as the female on the tape, while other relatives said she was on the tape.

Ed Genson, one of Kelly’s attorneys, said prosecutors didn’t have much of a case.

“As for the so-called key evidence, I think we refuted all of it,” he said.

Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Shauna Boliker said she believed the female on the tape was a victim, not a prostitute as the defense had contended.

“This shows the world how difficult this crime is to prosecute,” she said. “It also takes the soul of the victim, the heart of the victim.”

Despite his legal troubles, Kelly — who rose from poverty on Chicago’s South Side to become a star singer, songwriter and producer — still retains a huge following, and his popularity has arguably grown in recent years.

The singer has released more than half a dozen albums, most of them million-sellers. He’s also had a multitude of hits and gone on tours. His recent efforts include “Trapped in the Closet,” a multipart saga about the sexual secrets of an ever-expanding cast of characters.

Kelly has a new song, “Hair Braider,” out now, and is due to release a new album in July.

Yahoo News

Relatives: Alleged R. Kelly victim isn’t in video

Relatives: Alleged R. Kelly victim isn’t in video

By MICHAEL TARM, Associated Press Writer

CHICAGO – A sex tape that prosecutors say shows R. Kelly having sex with an underage girl has sharply divided the alleged victim’s family into those who think it’s her and those who don’t, a relative told jurors.

When prosecutors asked Leroy Edwards Jr. during cross-examination whether the family “has pretty much split in half as a result of this incident,” he answered softly, “Yes.”

Edwards was one of three family members to testify Wednesday as the defense began presenting its case in the R&B superstar’s child pornography trial. All three insisted the female in the video is not their relative. Four relatives testified earlier for the prosecution that it is.

Asked Wednesday whether the female in the video at the center of the case was her relative, Shonna Edwards responded, “It definitely wasn’t her.”

The 27-year-old said she saw the tape for the first time several days ago in a lawyer’s office, telling jurors that the female’s body in the tape was too developed to be her relative at that time.

Prosecutors, who rested their case on Monday, allege the girl was as young as 13 when the tape was made.

Shonna Edwards said she met Kelly frequently in the 1990s when she sang in an R&B music group with her relative, and she added that the man in the sex tape “did not appear” to be Kelly.

Kelly, 41, is charged with 14 counts of child pornography for allegedly videotaping himself having sex with an underage girl. He has pleaded not guilty and faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Both he and the alleged victim deny they’re on the graphic, 27-minute tape.

The singer, dressed in a honey-brown suit and bright flower-pattern tie, appeared attentive as he sat behind the defense table Wednesday, sometimes even nodding his head in agreement during the testimony for the defense.

During cross-examination, prosecutors displayed two photos on a split screen — one of the female in the tape and one of the alleged victim — and asked Shonna Edwards if it was at least possible they were the same person.

“Not at all,” she said without hesitating.

Another relative, Charlotte Edwards, provided similar testimony on Wednesday.

The defense sought to discredit the testimony of a star prosecution witness, Lisa Van Allen, who told jurors Monday that she engaged in three-way sex with Kelly and the alleged victim.

A law clerk for the defense team, Jason Wallace, told jurors that Van Allen’s fiance, Yul Brown, sought $300,000 from Kelly in exchange for her silence.

“Lisa doesn’t have to testify in court if things are made right,” Wallace quoted Brown as saying during a meeting with a Kelly attorney in Georgia last month, according to Wallace.

Van Allen was at the meeting in a hotel lobby, Wallace said, but Brown did all the speaking. Wallace said Van Allen kept nodding her head in agreement.

Under cross-examination, prosecutor Robert Heilingoetter accused the defense of “trying to create an illusion of impropriety” around Van Allen’s testimony.

Earlier Wednesday, a Chicago Sun-Times reporter declined to answer questions at the trial.

After he was sworn in, Jim DeRogatis cited an Illinois law that governs reporters’ rights and the First and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution in refusing to answer questions.

DeRogatis received the sex tape through the mail in early 2002 and then turned it over to authorities. Prosecutors charged Kelly later that year based on the tape.

DeRogatis read his statement off an index card more than a dozen times in response to questions, including to whether he once made a copy of the sex tape. Defense attorneys have said that copying the tape would have been a crime.

After DeRogatis spent 10 minutes on the stand, Judge Vincent Gaughan said the First Amendment and other reporters’ privileges don’t apply in this case. But he ruled that DeRogatis doesn’t have to testify based on his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.

R. Kelly and Usher messin’ with the SAME GIRL + RISE UP

R. KELLY DOUBLE UP in stores May 29
www.r-kelly.com
www.myspace.com/rkelly

NEW! AUDIO: “Same Girl” duet with USHER

R. Kelly: Man she so fine
Usher: Straight up dawg
R. Kelly: She stand about 5’4”, Coca-Cola red bone

R. Kelly has written a song, “Rise Up,” about healing in the aftermath of the April 16 shootings at Virginia Tech. A gunman killed 32 people and himself on the university’s campus in Blacksburg, Va.

“Rise Up” is available digitally starting May 15, and 100 percent of the net proceeds from its sale will go to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund, said Jive Records, Kelly’s record label.

Kelly, 40, wrote the inspirational ballad after watching the events unfold on television while he was on route to a performance, Jive said.

The lyrics include the lines: “Rise up, when you feel you can’t go on, rise up, and all of your hope is gone, rise up, when you’re weak and you can’t be strong.”

The Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund was created to provide assistance to the victims of the families, as well as grief counseling and other needs for those affected by the shootings.

More info on the Virginia Tech Tragedy Memorial Fund

AUDIO: “Rise Up” (Virginia Tech Tragedy Memorial Tribute)