CHICAGO — Threesomes. Hot tubs. Headless sex scenes. R. Kelly’s child-pornography trial seemed to have it all — or did it? Kelly himself never took the stand , only speaking to say that he would not be speaking. Kelly’s voice wasn’t the only thing missing from his month-long trial — here’s a recap of what else you didn’t find at the Cook County Criminal Courthouse:
THE R. KELLY TRIAL: IN BRIEF
Status of Trial
What’s at Stake?
For full coverage of the ongoing R. Kelly case, see The R. Kelly Trial Reports.
Star Power: Diddy had Jennifer Lopez (at least for the grand jury), Russell Simmons and Faith Evans. Michael Jackson had Janet Jackson, Jay Leno and Macaulay Culkin. But despite all the artists who’ve continued to work with Kelly after he was charged, not one of them came by 26th and California, as either character witnesses or court spectators — save for Eric Lane, who plays Twan in Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet” series. Lane was willing to be trapped in the courtroom for the last few days of trial and told MTV News he would stick around for closing arguments.
Kelly’s Support System: Several members of MJ’s large family walked him into the courthouse, but R. had only bodyguards and his business manager, Derrel McDavid — his most stalwart supporter — to flank him. “I’ve been with him for 17 years,” McDavid told MTV News. But where were and Kelly’s wife and siblings? Or was it a defense strategy to keep brothers Bruce and Carey away from the jury, so they would never see how much, or how little, they resemble each other? The end result is that the singer looked lonely — and pitiable.
Media Circus: The judge in this case consulted with the judge in the MJ trial to plan the media access and security measures, anticipating large crowds … who rarely came. Maybe it’s because this is Chicago, instead of a more paparazzi-filled town like Los Angeles or New York. Maybe it’s because Kelly’s appearances at court (going on six years now thanks to the trial’s delay) are old news — and he doesn’t wear pajamas or jump on SUVs. Protestors, supporters and spectators lost their momentum — that was, until promises of ménage à trois testimony surfaced. Then the courtroom was filled to capacity.
More Witnesses: “Threesome woman” Lisa Van Allen was the star witness for the prosecution, and the defense threatened to counter with a string of impeachment witnesses to undermine her credibility. Thing is, most of them never took the stand. Van Allen’s ex-boyfriend Damon Pryor, the defense’s “surprise” witness, who may or may not have talked to Van Allen about a “Chuck and Keith” planning to set Kelly up? Her friend Adelina Prado, who may or may not have participated in threesomes with her and Kelly, and who may or may not have fielded a call from Van Allen suggesting they set him up? They were never called. Was that because the defense’s suggestions of extortion schemes were just that — suggestions? Or did the defense feel that private investigator Jack Palladino’s testimony did more to dismantle Van Allen than her friends could?
Also, what happened to the prosecution’s expert witness, forensic pediatrician Dr. Sharon Cooper , who would have testified about the girl’s development and helped to establish her age? The prosecution went to great lengths to get the court to allow her testimony, and then, strangely, never called her to the stand.
Kelly’s Other Accusers: Where were all the women who had previously sued Kelly for criminal sexual conduct? The judge in the Michael Jackson case allowed admission of “prior bad acts,” regarding five other boys the singer allegedly molested. So why not here — especially in the case of Aaliyah, where it would have served both sides? The prosecution could have established a pattern of behavior; the defense could have established a motive for Aaliyah’s uncle, Kelly’s former manager Barry Hankerson. It may well be that this judge didn’t want to have any occasion for the case to be overturned on appeal, so he may have excluded testimony related past cases that did not result in criminal charges.
Elaborate Blackmail Theories: Everywhere you look, the defense claimed, someone was out to get R. Kelly. But most of those theories were not fleshed out, nor were intersecting lines made. Did Stephanie “Sparkle” Edwards know Lisa Van Allen? That was never established. Hankerson’s motive? Again, not established. Motives aside, how would any of these people frame the singer? Since the defense did not dispute that the tape was shot in Kelly’s former home, but instead argued that the room must be a background layer, according to their theory, someone must have broken into the singer’s home to shoot at least the room itself. How was this done? That was never established either.
There have been others suspected of and/or convicted of extortion related to Kelly sex tapes, but those people never factored into the defense’s conspiracy theories. Derrick Mosley was found guilty in 2005 and served two years for trying to extort $20,000 from Gary Sheffield over a sex tape involving his wife, DeLeon Richards, and Kelly . Mosley has also been accused of extorting members of Kelly’s team for a separate matter. Additionally, the FBI investigated two individuals named Rene “Poppy” Rodriguez and Burrell Wilks for trying to extort Richards and her mother for several million dollars in 2002, although they were never charged. So why not introduce these schemes, which would bolster the defense’s claims of extortion? Instead, the most plausible extortion claim came when Palladino testified that Van Allen wanted money not to testify.
A Victim: The young woman, now 23, who prosecutors say was 13 or 14 at the time the tape was made, never came to court to point an accusing finger at Kelly. Then again, no one expected her to. For reasons that were never explained to the jury, the girl denied to the grand jury that it was she on the tape. Prosecutors had hoped to present an expert to testify about how common victims deny that they were abused and that outcry is often delayed — but that witness was rejected by the judge (perhaps because instead of calling a sex-abuse therapist, the state pressed for a forensic pediatrician who hadn’t consulted with the alleged victim). So we’re left to wonder: Does the girl deny it because she really wasn’t on the tape, as the defense claims, or because she thinks that’s the way to make it all go away? We may never know.
Find a review of the major players in the R. Kelly trial here . For full coverage of the R. Kelly case, see the R. Kelly Reports and check out this complete timeline of the events leading up to the trial.