The wait is finally over: After several years’ worth of delays, setbacks, and musical hits from Dave Chappelle, the R. Kelly trial got underway, and let us just say the atmosphere in the courtroom was well…I’m going to let you decide on the appropriate word of choice.
CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) — The judge ordered the courtroom lights to be lowered and the blinds drawn. And then, the 25-minute sex tape at the heart of the R. Kelly child pornography case played Tuesday before a packed house: a Chicago courtroom.
R&B superstar Kelly sat expressionless as the tape was played. He’s charged with 14 counts of child pornography and faces 15 years in prison if convicted.
Sketch artists were warned that if they drew any depiction of the acts on the tape, they, too, could be charged with child pornography.
Juror reactions were difficult to discern in the hushed and darkened courtroom.
Prosecutor Shauna Bolicker warned the jury in opening statements Tuesday that the “vile, disturbing and disgusting” video shows Kelly having sex with an underage girl. Bolicker told jurors they would see the “crime unfold … frame by ugly frame” in the video, which she said was “choreographed, produced, and starring Robert Kelly.”
Defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. countered that even the FBI, “the same people chasing bin Laden … cannot identify Mr. Kelly as being on the tape.”
Shouting at times, Adams told the jury that it is not Kelly on the tape and that the girl was “a paid, professional prostitute.”
On the tape, the man’s face is seen only in profile, but the face of the alleged underage girl is plainly visible. At times she appears bored, and she rarely speaks, except when the man tells her to call him “Daddy.”
After a variety of sex acts including oral sex, masturbation and urination, the video ends with the man appearing to tenderly wipe the girl off with a towel and then hand her some money.
Kelly, 41, is accused of videotaping himself having sex with an underage girl who prosecutors maintain was as young as 13 when the tape was made between January 1, 1998, and November 1, 2000. The trial has been delayed by legal maneuvering for nearly six years.
The alleged victim, now 23, denies that she’s the girl in the video. Kelly has denied that he is the man depicted in the tape.
The trial has been delayed repeatedly since the tape was mailed to the Chicago Sun-Times in 2002. The newspaper turned it over to authorities, and Kelly was indicted that year.
The defense asserts that Kelly has a “significant” mole in the middle of his lower back that has been there since childhood. But he said the man on the tape did not have the mole.
“There is no mole on his back,” Adam said. “Robert isn’t that man on the tape.”
Kelly won a Grammy in 1997 for the gospel-tinged “I Believe I Can Fly” and is also known for songs such as “Bump N’ Grind,” “Ignition” and “Trapped in the Closet,” a multi-part saga about the sexual secrets of a lively and ever-expanding cast of characters.
So, to recap:
– We’re not certain just how many of the 12 jurors were chillin’ Stanley Pringle-style during the showing of the video. However, there were several eyewitness reports of “smacking sounds” heard coming from the general vicinity of the juror’s box.
– Both the “victim” and R. Kelly himself deny that they’re the people in the video, which really throws a wrench into the prosecution’s case since they now have to figure out whether both R. Kelly and the victim are mutually refusing to cooperate, or if they are both in fact, telling the truth.
– R.Kelly is NOT “The Mole”
– To convince me that R. Kelly is indeed guilty, I’d have to see a video of him singing “Piss On You,” two forms of government ID, a police officer there to verify the whole thing, four or five of our buddies taking notes, and R. Kelly’s grandma to confirm his identity.