After sex tape shown, prosecutors try to prove case in R. Kelly trial

  • R. Kelly

    R. Kelly Associated Press

Wire and staff reports
Updated 5/21/2008 1:45 PM

Prosecutors at the R. Kelly child pornography trial are trying to link the R&B star to the videotape at the center of the case.

A retired investigator with the Cook County state's attorney's office testified Wednesday that he went to a home on Chicago's North Side in 2002 that had been owned by the singer.


Former investigator John Kelly says he saw a "hot tub room" in the home that appeared to be the same room in the sexually explicit video.

Prosecutors played the sex tape in court Tuesday. Authorities contend it shows Kelly engaging in sex with an underage girl and takes place in a distinctive room with a log cabin theme.

A defense attorney countered that Kelly moved out of the home at least several weeks before the investigator arrived. Kelly has pleaded not-guilty.

The second day of testimony followed presentation on Tuesday of the sex tape at the center of Kelly's trial. His defense team, though, emphatically denied it was Kelly they were watching.

Prosecutors on Tuesday aired the infamous 27-minute videotape in a hushed courtroom packed with reporters, lawyers and other spectators. The lights were dimmed, shades drawn. Deputies lined the doorways.

Kelly, 41, dressed in a navy suit and striped tie, appeared grim and occasionally rested his chin on his hand, but he did not otherwise react.

On the homemade videotape, a man is seen engaging in various sex acts with a young but physically developed female wearing only a necklace with a cross dangling from her neck. At one point, she dances provocatively for the man, who is off camera whispering instructions. She is impassive, often without expression.

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The man's face many times is obscured. His hair appears shaved. He wears a diamond-stud earring. Their muffled voices at times are drowned out by background music. The girl, who repeatedly calls him "Daddy," accepts cash from the man at the beginning and end of the video.

Prosecutors allege Kelly made the sexually explicit video in his former home at 1010 W. George St. in Chicago between Jan. 1, 1998, and Nov. 1, 2000, and that the girl was as young as 13.

Kelly, whose real first name is Robert, rose from poverty on the city's South Side, inspired by his single mother whom he credits for helping him find his voice, and soared to heights that even his dreams could not eclipse.

But, in her opening statement, prosecutor Shauna Boliker reminded jurors every defendant is equal in a criminal courtroom, regardless of fame or fortune. She described the video as "vile, disturbing and disgusting."


"Everything was written, directed and choreographed by Robert Kelly," Boliker said Tuesday. "This case will unfold before you, frame by disgusting frame. You don't have to put it all together because he did that for you."

Kelly, who lives in Olympia Fields, faces up to 15 years in prison if he is convicted of child pornography. He was indicted nearly six years ago in June 2002 after a Chicago Sun-Times music critic months earlier received the tape from an anonymous source and gave it to police.

But Kelly's defense team urged the jury of nine men and three women to acquit. Defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. denied the man on the tape is Kelly and that the girl is actually a paid prostitute and not who prosecutors allege. Both the girl and her mother have denied it is her during earlier grand jury testimony.

Adam also showed jurors a police photo of Kelly's lower back, which has a dime-size mole that the lawyer said has been there since birth. He argued it is proof of Kelly's innocence since no such identifiable marks are seen on the man in the video. Furthermore, the FBI analyzed the tape in 2002 and couldn't identify Kelly.

"There's a section right on that tape where the man stands up and his back is illuminated," Adam said. "And there's no mole. That means one thing. Either Robert isn't the man on that tape or he is some kind of a magician."

Adam also questioned the tape's origin since it has been copied at least three times from the original, which never surfaced. He said police never found evidence of it in Kelly's possession. There also isn't medical evidence or DNA tying Kelly to a crime.

The prosecution's only physical evidence is the tape, but Boliker told jurors several of the girl's friends, their parents, her coaches and other family members will testify that the girl depicted in the video is indeed her.

Furthermore, the room in which the video was filmed is unique. The sex acts take place near a hot tub on a wooden ledge in a room with log-cabin like walls.

Retired Chicago police detective Dan Everett, who investigated the Sun-Times tip, testified Tuesday he thought he recognized the girl from a Dec. 5, 2000, police interview and began conducting several interviews of family and friends. Jurors saw police photos of a room Everett identified as the singer's former home, which was strikingly similar to that in the video.

Also Tuesday, a female juror who earlier said she was a rape survivor was excused from service due to a financial hardship. A male alternate replaced her. The Sun-Times reporter who received the videotape - Jim Derogatis - also was subpoenaed by the defense. Cook County Circuit Judge Vincent Gaughan ordered him to appear in court Friday to discuss whether other copies were made of the tape.

Dozens of media outlets from as far away as the BBC, CNN, London Daily Mail and others descended upon the Chicago courthouse. Kelly, his hair in corn rows, arrived about 90 minutes before court with a small entourage. Four female fans squealed with excitement upon seeing him during a lunch break, before deputies quickly escorted them out of the building.

Kelly credits his mother, Joann, who died of cancer in 1993, with inspiring his musical career. Discovered at a neighborhood BBQ, he scored his best-known hit, "I Believe I Can Fly," on the soundtrack to Michael Jordan 1996 movie, "Space Jam."

The singer, songwriter and producer has been called a musical genius known for lyrics that exploit sex as a form of artistic specialty, with other hits that include "Bump N' Grind," "Ignition," and his multi-part video series, "Trapped in the Closet."

The trial continues today.

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