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R. Kelly Courtroom Drama Begins

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And you thought it would never happen. Six years and many delays later, jury selection began today in the R. Kelly child-pornography trial, set at the Cook County Criminal Courts Building in Chicago.

Flanked by bodyguards and dressed in a blue-gray suit, the 41-year-old Grammy Award–winning singer–songwriter walked up to the courthouse amid protesters calling him a pedophile and fans cheering “He's Not Guilty!”

His attorneys have successfully delayed this trial since 2002. But while the jury is being carefully chosen, Kelly must consider that he may finally sit before a group of his peers as he’s tried on 14 counts of child pornography. Those charges were brought against him in 2002 after a now infamous tape was sent anonymously to the Chicago Sun-Times. The tape allegedly shows Kelly engaging in sexual acts with a girl as young as 13. He continues to assert his innocence, pleading not guilty to all charges.

But with the ominous possibility of spending 15 years in prison if convicted, reportedly Kelly’s lawyers plan to argue that neither he nor the girl in question are actually the persons appearing on the tape.

According to news reports, state and federal prosecutors will give immunity to an Atlanta woman, who is said to be one of their key witnesses, having allegedly had sexual encounters with Kelly and the young woman at the core of this case.

Essence.com is staying at the forefront of these proceedings. Starting next week, log on for the latest reports from inside the Cook County Criminal Courts Building.

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