R. Kelly Pornography Trial Begins
Six years after he was charged with videotaping himself having sex with an underage girl, R&B superstar R. Kelly went on trial on Friday, with his alleged victim prepared to deny she is the person on the tape.
Kelly has been charged with 14 counts of videotaping, producing or soliciting child pornography. Prosecutors argue he knew, or should have known, the girl was a teenaged minor.
If convicted of all charges, the 41-year-old performer, whose given name is Robert Kelly, could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.
As Kelly arrived at the Cook County Criminal Courthouse, fans cheered and critics waved signs and called the prolific songwriter, singer and producer a pedophile.
Judge Vincent Gaughan rejected a request from Kelly's lawyers to delay the trial because of recent publicity. The proceeding, already postponed numerous times, is expected to last up to seven weeks, with jury selection continuing Monday.
Prosecutors say the lurid 26-minute tape was made between January 1998 and November 2000 when the girl was 13 or 14.
The alleged victim, who is now in her 20s, has denied she is the girl on the tape and could testify in Kelly's defense, according to court records. Kelly's lawyers have argued it is not him on the tape either.
PREVIOUSLY | 07 May - R. Kelly Trial Set to Begin
It wouldn't be much of a surprise if you've forgotten about the child pornography allegations against R&B singer R. Kelly. It's taken six years to get him into court.
But it's finally happening —and Kelly could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
CHICAGO - It seemed for a while as if R. Kelly's day in court might never come.
But after six years of repeated delays, jury selection is set to begin Friday in the Grammy-winning R&B singer's trial on child pornography charges, prompted by a videotape allegedly showing Kelly having sex with a girl as young as 13.
Prosecutors, though, will have a unique challenge: The alleged victim, now 23, says it wasn't her. And Kelly's attorneys — including Ed Genson, who often represents the rich and famous — haven't admitted it's Kelly in the video.
"How is there not reasonable doubt when the two people say it's not them?" said Michael Helfand, a Chicago attorney not involved in the case.
But Helfand conceded that it's unclear what supporting evidence the prosecution might present.
The 41-year-old Kelly, whose first name is Robert, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted. But Kelly — one of urban music's biggest stars, and a consistent hitmaker despite his legal woes — is glad the wait is over, his spokesman said.
"Every waking moment, he's always had this hanging over his head," spokesman Allan Mayer said. "He's confident that when all the evidence comes out he'll be shown not to be guilty of any crime."
The centerpiece of the trial is likely to be the video footage, which Judge Vincent Gaughan ruled may be shown in open court.
Prosecutors claim the videotape was made sometime between Jan. 1, 1998 and Nov. 1 2000, and that the girl was born in September 1984.