CHICAGO — After seven and a half hours of deliberation over the course of less than two days, the jury in R. Kelly's child-pornography trial reached a decision: not guilty on all counts.
"Robert said all along that he believed in our system and he believed in God — and that when all the facts came out in court, he would be cleared of these terrible charges," Kelly spokesman Allan Mayer said afterward. "But he never dreamed it would take six and a half years. This has been a terrible ordeal for him and his family, and at this point, all he wants to do is move forward and put it behind him.
"He wants to thank his lawyers for their brilliant defense, his fans for supporting him with so much love, and most of all God for giving him the strength to get through this. He will have more to say about what he's been through in a little while, but right now he needs a little time to recover from all this and be with his family."
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Before the verdict was read at 2 p.m. CT, Judge Vincent Gaughan warned the court, "I don't want any outbursts," saying anyone who did disrupt the reading would be held in direct contempt of court and go to jail immediately.
While listening to the verdict, R. Kelly cried softly as his lawyers held his hands and he shuddered with a sigh of relief. Kelly then slapped his attorney Sam Adam Jr. on the back and gave him a bear hug. As he hugged attorney Ed Genson, he rested his head on his shoulder and cried. Kelly supporters in the court gallery, including his business manager, also shed tears.
THE R. KELLY TRIAL: IN BRIEF
Early verdicts are usually considered better for the prosecution than the defense, but this was the exception. Kelly was indicted just over six years ago for videotaping himself engaged in sexual acts with a then-underage girl, his goddaughter. A copy of a videotape was delivered to the Chicago Sun-Times in February 2002, which reporter Jim DeRogatis then handed over to the police. Kelly denied he was the man on the tape, claiming it must be a forgery.
The jury didn't necessarily agree. After the trial was over, jurors spoke to the press about their decision, explaining that though they thought Kelly was on the tape, they were unsure of the girl's identity.
"We were uncertain as to the female, and the absence of her was a major lack in the case," juror #23 said.
Kelly's attorneys apparently raised doubt among the jurors about the motives of the witnesses who came forward to identify the people on the tape, including the girl's aunt Stephanie "Sparkle" Edwards, whom the singer's lawyers described as bitter over a bad business deal with the singer, and former Kelly mistress Lisa Van Allen, whom defense attorneys accused of attempting to extort $300,000 from them in order not to testify.
Van Allen's testimony was especially scrutinized by the jury, who, on the first day of deliberations, asked for a complete transcript of what she said under direct and cross-examination.
For the last six years, Kelly's movements have been monitored by the court — any time he wanted to tour, shoot a music video or attend an awards show outside the jurisdiction, he had to seek permission and check in with a probation officer daily while out of town. On top of that, he was required to attend nearly every hearing held in this case. Kelly faced up to 15 years of prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
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.
[This story was originally published at 3:17 pm E.T. on 6.13.2008]