R. Kelly Trial: P.I. Accuses ‘Threesome’ Woman Of Extortion; Video Analyst Says There’s No Way To Tell If Sex Tape Was Faked

Expert witness also contends mole on the man's back could be a blemish on the video.

CHICAGO — “Are you clairvoyant?”

As R. Kelly’s defense team kept up their onslaught of witnesses intended to dismantle the credibility of the state’s witnesses, prosecutors accused them of trying to use parlor tricks to make evidence appear and disappear — like the mole on the singer’s back. Depending on which forensic video expert you ask, it’s either completely visible on the footage at the heart of the singer’s child-pornography trial, or it’s not. And in the case of one celebrity P.I., prosecutors thought he was basing his testimony on mind-reading.

THE R. KELLY TRIAL: IN BRIEF

Status of Trial
The prosecution rested on June 2; the defense began on June 4.

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.

Private investigator Jack Palladino, who previously worked for singers such as Mariah Carey and Courtney Love, was describing a meeting he had in March in Atlanta with the prosecution’s star witness in the case against R. Kelly: Lisa Van Allen, a woman who testified that she had participated in a threesome with the singer and an underage girl . Palladino, who was called as an impeachment witness, insisted that Van Allen and her fiance, Yul Brown, had tried to extort money from the singer, although not in so many words.

“They told you they had been offered a $300,000 book deal?” defense attorney Sam Adam Sr. asked.

“I assumed they were trying to solicit a bribe,” Palladino answered. (The judge told the jury to disregard this reply.)

“Is that a crime? To have a book deal?” prosecutor Robert Heilingoetter asked on cross-examination.

“Absolutely not, if you believe them,” Palladino said. “If you don’t believe them … it was a coded way of getting money from my client [in exchange for not testifying].”

“Does everyone who wants to have a book deal have to clear it with Jack Palladino?” Heilingoetter asked. “Did you monitor every phone conversation to see what does and doesn’t exist? I’m trying to figure out where this alleged extortion is except between your ears.”

Palladino conceded that he had not determined the existence or fabrication of any book-deal offers to Van Allen, but he had in fact monitored at least one conversation — since he had recorded his meeting with Van Allen and Brown, although the tape was not presented or played in court. Claiming that Brown said two things that implied a request for money, Palladino said that they said, “We want to do what’s best for our family,” and “Talk to your client.”

“Ha!” Heilingoetter exclaimed with sarcasm. “They said that? How dare they! That is extortion at its best.”

“There is little doubt what it meant,” Palladino said. “It goes to their veracity and motive.”

Forensic video analyst Charles Palm worked on stirring up some more doubt during his testimony, in which he claimed that it would be possible to fabricate the sex tape, despite previous testimony by a more experienced expert. Palm, who is self-taught and has had no formal training in forensic video analysis, estimated that with a budget of $250,000 and a timeframe of a few months, it would be possible.

Palm took the court through his own frame-by-frame demonstration of the 17 images — about a half-second of footage in which the man’s back is visible — but in his version, the black spot that had been visible on the man’s back came and went, depending on movement and lighting. Palm said it wasn’t a mole at all, but an artifact of electronic noise — meaning the blemish on the back was a blemish on the tape.

“Did you see a mole?” defense attorney Marc Martin asked.

“No, I did not,” Palm said. “I see a black mark, but that does not appear to be a mole. There is no mole on the back that I can perceive.”

Palm also performed another trick — in a version he had created over the course of a few afternoons, he showed how the room could be on a loop as a background layer, and showing how the people in that room could be a second layer, which could appear and reappear, depending on their level of transparency, “like ghosts.” Palm even made the people’s heads disappear while the couple were having intercourse on the tape and superimposed another head from another portion of the tape on the male. Even if it could be done, he conceded, there would be evidence of the fabrication. “It should be detectable by everybody with good eyesight,” Palm said. “Even an untrained eye could pick that up.”

Prosecutor Shauna Boliker asked if there were any evidence of fabrication on the tape at the center of the case.

“Nothing jumps out at me at being obviously faked,” Palm said.

“Do you see any evidence of superimposing?” she asked.

“No, I don’t see anything,” he said.

Meanwhile, the defense also called a string of investigators — many of whom were on Kelly’s payroll — to poke holes in the testimony of a few state witnesses, but the most obviously inconsistent testimony came from the officer who arrested the girl’s uncle for possessing crack cocaine. Ben Edwards Sr. had denied being caught with crack under his hat, but Officer Joseph Berdin said that when asked if he had anything illegal on his person, Edwards volunteered, “I have some rock.”

“Then he took four rock-like substances from under his hat,” Berdin said. “They tested positive for cocaine.”

Chicago Sun-Times reporter Jim DeRogatis also complied with a court order to hand over his interview notes with the girl’s aunt, Stephanie “Sparkle” Edwards. The notes match her testimony , down to her mention of attorney Buddy Meyers as having first alerted her to the existence of the sex tape. DeRogatis and Sparkle also discussed a B.H. — meaning former Kelly manager Barry Hankerson — wanting revenge “for the whole Aaliyah thing” and a theory that Hankerson had sent him the tape in the first place.

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.