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 in Chicago, 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 today.
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 defence, according to court records.
Kelly’s lawyers have argued it is not him on the tape either.
The story came to light in early 2002 when the Chicago Sun-Times turned over to police a copy of the widely bootlegged videotape.
The Chicago Sun-Times and the Tribune both reported last week another woman would testify that she and the girl had engaged in sex together with Kelly, and will identify her as the person on the tape, which will likely be played in court.