R. Kelly Trial: Sex Tape Is Played In Court; Judge Nearly Calls Mistrial After Witness Misspeaks

Judge has forbidden use of the word 'investigation.'

CHICAGO — As R. Kelly's child-pornography trial began in earnest on Tuesday morning (May 20), the prosecution and defense completed their opening arguments, and a juror who was the victim of a rape was removed from the jury. The removed juror had called the court to express concern over the financial hardship the trial would cause, according to the Chicago Tribune.


Status of Trial
Opening arguments began on May 20

The Charges
Kelly faces 14 counts of child pornography — seven for directing, seven for producing.

What's at Stake?
Kelly faces 15 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. If convicted, he'd have to register as a sex offender.

For full coverage of the ongoing R. Kelly case, see The R. Kelly Trial Reports.

The juror's employer would not pay for the time away from work during the trial, which is expected to take several weeks, making it difficult for the juror to make mortgage payments, the paper reported. An alternate (juror #66) was rotated in.

The sex tape at the center of the trial — which allegedly depicts Kelly having sex with an underage girl — was played in court on Tuesday. According to the Tribune, Kelly watched intently, at times resting his chin in his palm, and he apparently shook his head as he leaned in to talk to his attorney; jurors either took notes or fidgeted.

After the tape was played, the trial nearly ended just hours after it began: Former Chicago police investigator Dan Everett, who testified that he first obtained the tape in February 2002 from a Chicago Sun-Times reporter, used the word "investigation" — Judge Vincent Gaughan had previously issued an order forbidding the use of the word. Gaughan immediately stopped the testimony and asked the jury to leave. The judge reprimanded Everett and the prosecution: "If they do it again, I certainly am going to grant a mistrial," he said.

Everett then corrected his wording to say "interview," and the jury was let back in.

On Tuesday morning, the media was admonished by the judge, who said that anyone who recreates images from the sex tape could be charged with reproducing child pornography. This could cause legal difficulty for any members of the media who have played the tape in an effort to verify the identities of the people in it.

Find a review of the major players in the R. Kelly trial here. For full coverage of the case, read the R. Kelly Reports and check out this complete timeline of the events leading up to the trial.

[This story was originally published at 2:01 pm E.T. on 5.20.2008]