A court of law let R. Kelly go, but the court of public opinion? That's another matter entirely. Two of his most dedicated Chicago fans attended his trial every single day to send the message that they hadn't given up on him. But even some of his other fans believe, despite the verdict rendered by a 12-member jury on Friday, that the R&B singer is guilty, if not of child pornography, then of something. The singer will be facing a divided fanbase as he seeks to rebuild his life. Here's a sample of what people in Chicago and New York's Times Square told MTV News when asked to give their reaction.
Mary Tesche, 19, from Anchorage, Alaska:
"I think he did it, and just because he's a celebrity, they're giving him a free pass to get out of jail. I read all the celebrity blogs, and I think he definitely did it. I think he should have gone to jail for it. [His fame] had a huge part, obviously. I think his career will go downhill and that people will think he's crazy, that he's a pervert. No one will want to give money to a pervert."
Chuck Kobas, 37, from Chicago suburbs:
"It was a big waste of taxpayer money, especially since the girl and her parents weren't the ones pressing charges."
Joe Miller, 21, from Chicago suburbs:
"I was actually a spectator in court, and from what I saw, I didn't think the prosecution had a good case. I wasn't impressed. The fact that they couldn't get the girl to testify, that wasn't very convincing. But is it possible he did it? Sure. But I loved the judge. He was awesome, Cook County to the core. He was yelling at Sam Adam Jr. when he was giving out water bottles to R. Kelly's team in court, 'This isn't Wrigley Field!' "
Butos Polycarpe, 35, from Haiti:
"The fact that he has a lot of money and delayed the process for six years, longer than any normal trial would have been delayed, that's why he got off. I'm a big fan, but at the same time, justice is due to those who deserve it. I also blame the parents of the girl because they allowed it to happen to her. The parents should be on trial. But if the tape wasn't enough to convict R. Kelly, what else can they do?"
Quenton Felton, 18, from Evanston, Illinois:
"He knows he's guilty. I don't really care for the verdict, but I can't say I was surprised, although I did think he'd get at least a year in prison."
Emily Stell, 26, from Chicago:
"I was surprised because I thought he was screwed."
Sourelly Hasbun, 19:
"I'm not surprised [by the verdict], because he's famous. Money gets rid of anything. His fame played a big part, that's the whole reason why he was acquitted. I never thought he was guilty. I think he will have a bigger career, because nobody really cares, I think. It's music, that's what they want. They want his music, and they don't care about the trial. I don't think that's right, but it's true."
Sinead Angus, 18, from Massachusetts:
"I was happy that he finally got acquitted because I didn't feel he was guilty at all. Because he's — he's not old, but he's a very mature guy, so I thought he'd probably have more sense, and he wouldn't do that. I've always been a fan. I don't think he's guilty, I really don't. I think he'll have a new album and keep making great music. I think [the charges were] totally not true. There are so many other scandals out there — which one are you going to believe?"
Nate Hughes, 26, from Chicago:
"I think he did it, but as a black man, I'm glad he got off. I've seen him in nightclubs, at the Rock N Roll McDonald's, hitting on younger girls, but I'm glad he's gotten away with it."
Joseph Johnson, 41, from East Orange, New Jersey:
"I think money talks, bullsh-- walks. His trial was held up for four, five years. He got good attorneys. Money talks. The music he makes — even though he's a musical genius — that doesn't justify what he did. It's a shock to the system. Me being a black man and him being a black artist — not putting racism into it — but if it was me, I would have went to jail. It's terrible. I do not agree with the decision, and I think everyone should protest R. Kelly right now. ... R. Kelly could make a song about doo-doo and make a hit out of it, but what he does doesn't justify the devilish acts that he did. He's most definitely guilty. I'm not surprised [by the verdict]. There's no telling what he was doing before he was caught on camera. God bless Aaliyah, but he's been doing this awhile. He could have been doing more acts than this. Obviously, nothing will happen to his career. A lot of people knew what he did; there were videos. People will forget about it, and as long as he makes good music, people will ignore what he did."
Joseph Caterino, 21, from New York:
"To be honest, celebrities get off on a lot of charges. If it was the average Joe, like you or me, we'd probably be facing some jail time. I think his fame played a huge factor, absolutely. It was enough to get him acquitted. If it were me or you, we'd definitely be behind bars. The fact that he does have that fame and status — he'll walk away because he has the money to do so. He is guilty in my head, and I feel many other Americans will feel the same way. I think he'll lose a good amount of fans."
Eric Karnis, 19, from East Meadow, New York:
"Based on the evidence, I think he's guilty. There's video evidence available; everyone's seen it, it's all over the Internet. But I'm not surprised [by the verdict]. He probably had a good lawyer, so it's not surprising at all. I've seen a lot of celebs get off in the past. Just look at Michael Jackson. I think that he had the means and the whole country watching, and he was able to acquit himself with a good lawyer. The evidence showed that [Kelly] was most likely guilty. I think he'll continue to make records, but he has been hurt by the charges brought against him, but still has a solid fanbase, so he should be fine."
Rachel Adamczyk, 25, from Chicago:
"I just graduated from Chicago-Kent College of Law, and I'm studying for the bar exam. In my personal opinion, I think he's guilty, but you have to prove it. The state just didn't have, in the jury's eyes, enough evidence. I think it was a fair trial."
Joyce Klemm, 61, from Chicago:
"R. Kelly, oh that a--hole! You just hit a nerve with me. With enough money, you can buy anything — any jury, any judge — in Chicago. That they weren't sure it was the girl was a bunch of malarkey. There needs to be a better definition of reasonable doubt, because what they had was beyond a reasonable doubt."
Russell Morrison, 22, from Manchester, England:
"Personally, I like the guy, so I'm glad he's been acquitted. I don't know if the charges were true or not. Hopefully, he continues making that good music. The way I see it is, until he's proven guilty, I can't call him guilty. I've seen a little bit of the video. People are saying it's him, it's not him. The thing with being a fan is, a lot of people just jump on the bandwagon and say he did it. If the evidence is there, and it comes out that he did do it, he should be punished. When you got the money and you got the power, you can make certain things go away. Personally, I hope he goes on to better things, but the charges may make it worse for him."
Sarah Rundle, 19, from Gateshead, England:
"So many people have been brought up on the same charges and been found guilty, but because it's R. Kelly, everyone had something to say about it, because he's a star. He's obviously got a lot of support from his fans, but then there will be people who definitely see him as guilty. It's happened before, like with Aaliyah. He's still been successful after that, so you can't say."
Cooper Carllson, 21, from Chicago suburbs:
"It just doesn't hold enough weight when the girl says, 'It's not me.' "
Danielle Powell, 23, from Chicago:
"I was disappointed just because I believe the girl was too scared to testify, and that's sad. This verdict really devalued what happened to the girl, and the community really devalued her, because this was all placed on her, even though she was so young. I would love to see justice served, but there's no way now."