With his head bowed the entire time, R. Kelly wept as the verdict was read in a courtroom packed with security and county sheriffs. A 12-member jury found the superstar R&B crooner not guilty on 14 charges of child pornography. Kelly had avoided going to trial for six years on allegations that he videotaped himself having sex with an underage girl. He pleaded not guilty on all charges.
Prosecutors said the 41-year-old singer videotaped himself having sex and urinating on the girl, who prosecutors claim was between 13 and 16 years old at the time. During closing arguments on Thursday, prosecutors showed the infamous videotape, which had been viewed several times throughout the trial.
The tape showed a man looking like Kelly having sex with the girl and urinating on her. But Kelly’s attorney’s argued that neither Kelly nor the girl were the actual people on the tape.
“Robert said all along that he believed in our system and he believed in God—and that when all the facts came out in court, he would be cleared of these terrible charges,” said Kelly spokesman Allan Mayer in a written statement.
Kelly’s attorney Sam Adam Jr., also praised the jury’s verdict. “Two things happened today,” Adam said. “R. Kelly got his name back and [his goddaughter] never had to lose hers.”
In a press conference following the verdict, prosecutors said that child pornography cases are hard to try because oftentimes the victim does not come forward as a witness. Cook County State’s Attorney Dick Devine said, “As we must, we accept the verdict of the jury in this case.”
Five jurors talked to reporters after the verdict. They said they weren’t 100 percent sure it was the alleged victim on the tape, and that her absence during the trial was a factor in their decision. One juror said he discounted the testimony of the family since they were divided.
During the monthlong trial, prosecutors called to the stand a string of colorful witnesses, including relatives of the girl. One of them, Kelly’s former protégé Stephanie “Sparkle” Edwards, identified the girl in the video as her niece and testified that Kelly called the girl, who is now 23, his goddaughter. The bombshell of the trial was Lisa Van Allen, a former lover of Kelly’s, who claimed she had a tryst with the girl and Kelly nearly ten years ago. But the defense claimed Van Allen was a liar and a thief who picked bad men and was only trying to extort money from Kelly.