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Kelly acquitted of child porn

A jury clears the R&B star of charges that he videotaped sex with a minor, ending a six-year legal battle.

June 14, 2008|Stacy St. Clair | Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — A Cook County jury Friday acquitted R&B superstar R. Kelly of child pornography charges, ending a high-profile case that began more than six years ago.

Jurors said they put little stock in the prosecution's star witness, a woman who claimed she participated in videotaped sex acts with Kelly and a person the government alleged was Kelly's then-underage goddaughter. Jurors also said they were doubtful because the alleged victim and her family, who did not testify, had previously denied she was the person in the video.

The jury's initial vote was 10-2 in favor of acquittal. Subsequent votes during "heated but civil" deliberations moved back and forth, but never very far, jurors said.

"And at some point we said there was a lack of evidence," one female juror said. "There was nothing concrete enough to say it was him or her on that tape."

The 41-year-old singer, whose full name is Robert Kelly, denied charges that he videotaped himself engaging in a variety of sex acts with his goddaughter. Authorities said the female in the video could have been as young as 13 at the time.

The jury of nine men and three women deliberated for 7 1/2 hours before finding Kelly not guilty on all 14 counts.

"R. Kelly was found not guilty because they had the best jury that Cook County could produce," said Kelly's attorney Sam Adam Jr. "Two things happened today. R. Kelly got his name back, and [his goddaughter] never had to lose hers."

Prosecutors struck a somber note about the case, thanking witnesses, professing faith in their case and acknowledging they had an uphill fight to prove it.

"As we must, we accept the verdict of the jury in this case," Cook County State's Atty. Richard Devine said in a statement. "This prosecution is one we have no reservations about."

In the moments before the verdict was announced, Kelly could be seen praying in the courtroom. Adam said that as the verdicts rolled in, each count not guilty, he heard Kelly saying, "Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus."

Kelly left surrounded by his entourage, who kept reporters away from the singer and escorted him to a waiting SUV.

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