R. Kelly scored a minor victory in court Friday (February 27) when seven of the 21 child-pornography counts against him were dismissed on a technicality.
Kelly's lawyers filed a motion in December, asserting that the seven counts pertaining to soliciting a minor to participate in the sex tape should be dismissed on the grounds that they were based on laws that weren't on the books when the alleged conduct took place.
The original charge borrows language — that the singer "solicited, used, persuaded, induced, enticed or coerced" the alleged victim — from a provision in the Safe Neighborhoods Act. If the phrase had used only the word "solicited," prosecutors would have been in the clear. But since they expanded the scope with the other wording, they opened themselves up to the controversy over the language in that law, which took effect in 1995 but was then declared unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court before being re-enacted with expanded child-pornography provisions in June 1999.
Since the prosecution left a wide window for when the tape could have been made, sometime "between November 1, 1997, and February 1, 2002," it is difficult, if not impossible, to determine if the law was on the books when the tape was made.
On Friday, Chicago Judge Vincent Gaughan granted the defense's motion and dismissed those seven charges, with the prosecution conceding to the defense's argument. A rep from the state's attorney's office said those particular charges were going to be dropped before the case went to trial anyway.
Kelly's camp released a statement calling the win "the first official acknowledgement of the weakness of [the prosecution's] case." Ten other motions from the defense filed in December are still pending.
At Friday's hearing, Gaughan also granted Kelly permission to attend the March 20 Soul Train Music Awards in Los Angeles. His Chocolate Factory is up for Best Male R&B/Soul Album and R&B/Soul or Rap Album of the Year.
Kelly, who still faces 14 counts in Illinois (see "R. Kelly Arrested On 21 Counts Of Child Pornography") and 12 counts in Florida (see "R. Kelly Arrested On Child Porn Charges Again"), is due back in court April 2.
For full coverage of the R. Kelly sex tape scandal, see The R. Kelly Reports.