CHICAGO (Reuters) - R&B superstar R. Kelly and a girl who described him as her godfather and was about 13 or 14 are the two people on a pornographic tape Kelly is accused of making, the girl’s former best friend testified on Wednesday.
Simha Jamison, now 24, said in the second full day of the Grammy Award-winning artist’s trial that she recognized her friend Roshona Landfair on the videotape from her face and from a “mullet” haircut the two girls had gotten together.
“I saw (the tape) in late February 2002,” said Jamison, a Chicago hair stylist.
“Who did you believe was the female on that tape?” asked prosecutor Shauna Boliker of the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.
“I believed it was my best friend, Roshona,” she replied.
And the man on the tape, which Jamison was shown again on Wednesday before court?
“Her godfather, R. Kelly,” she said, explaining that’s how Roshona had introduced the singer.
Kelly is charged with 14 counts of videotaping, producing or soliciting child pornography with a 26-minute tape featuring oral sex, masturbation and other explicit acts. 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.
His lawyers said earlier in the trial that the two people on the tape are not Kelly or the girl, identified by prosecutors earlier in court as Landfair, now in her 20s. She also contends she is not on the tape and has refused to testify for the prosecution.
Jamison said Kelly would give Landfair “not less that $100 ... no more than $500” in cash to go shopping. They had met Kelly at Hoops, a basketball gym in Chicago, accompanied by Landfair’s parents when the girls were “about 12,” she said.
She said she estimated Roshona’s age on the tape at 13 or 14. Prosecutors have said the tape was made between January 1998 and November 2000, when the girl was 13 or 14.
Jamison said the two girls would do “nothing” on a dozen visits to Kelly’s Chicago studio, “Tracks,” while he did “recording stuff.”
Landfair would often stay on after Jamison went home, she added. The two girls later broke off their friendship, she said, though she did not explain why.
Jamison also identified photos of Kelly’s since-sold Chicago house and its log-cabin style sauna room where prosecutors say the tape was made, and which is a setting visible on the video.
Despite the charges lodged against him six years ago, Kelly has earned millions from concert tours and album sales while free on bond. After early 1990s hits such as “Sex Me” and “Bump n’ Grind,” Kelly won three Grammy Awards for his 1996 single “I Believe I Can Fly,” and has scored 20 other Grammy nominations.
Writing by Michael Conlon; editing by Peter Bohan and Vicki Allen