R. Kelly on trial for child pornography charges

Fri May 9, 2008 2:51pm EDT
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By Andrew Stern

CHICAGO (Reuters) - 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, 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 Monday.

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 defense, according to court records. Kelly's lawyers have argued it is not him on the tape either.

In a 2003 interview with the Chicago Tribune, Kelly said he was no pedophile, saying: "I've always loved women. ... But I don't have a bag with little suckers in it, hiding behind some tree talking about, 'Come here, little girl.' Not me."   Continued...

<p>Recording artist R. Kelly, flanked by his security guards, arrives at the Cook County Criminal Courthouse in Chicago, May 9, 2008. REUTERS/John Gress</p>