On the day jury selection is scheduled to begin in the long-delayed R. Kelly child-pornography trial, yet another shocking allegation in the case has leaked out. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, a judge was told last month in closed-door hearings that an aide to the singer allegedly paid a woman to return an incriminating sex tape featuring Kelly.
The unnamed Atlanta woman is reportedly planning to testify that she had a three-way sexual encounter with Kelly and the underage girl depicted in the videotape that spurred the trial.
The paper did not report how much the aide allegedly paid the woman for the tape (which is not the same one featured in the trial), though it said she did receive payment and arranged for the tape to be sent to the aide. The aide also reportedly arranged for the woman to take a polygraph test to determine whether she was telling the truth about having the tape. The paper said it was unclear if Kelly knew about the alleged deal.
Kelly, 41, has pleaded not guilty to charges of child pornography related to a widely distributed videotape that appears to show him having sex with a girl who is thought to have been 14 years old at the time.
THE R. KELLY TRIAL: IN BRIEF|
Status of Trial
Jury selection begins on May 9.
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 Sun-Times reported that Judge Vincent Gaughan held four hearings in April that were closed to the public. Sources told the paper that the hearings dealt with the potential testimony of the Atlanta woman, who can allegedly identify the girl in the tape and testify that she was underage at the time. The Atlanta woman has been granted immunity from federal and state prosecution in the case in exchange for her testimony, in part to protect her from charges of transporting child pornography across state lines.
The testimony from the Atlanta woman could be crucial to the prosecution's case because the alleged victim at the center of the trial, who is now in her 20s, denied before a grand jury that she appears in the tape and might testify as a defense witness in the trial. Prosecutors became aware of the Atlanta woman's dealings with the Kelly aide after the deal was struck, according to the Sun-Times.
A number of the court documents in the case have been sealed, and the judge has imposed a gag order on the lawyers in order to ensure that Kelly gets a fair trial, but on Wednesday, his lawyers asked for a delay in the trial due to the widespread reporting of the information about the Atlanta woman's claims.
In court early Friday (May 9), Gaughan denied that request for a delay, but Kelly's lawyer asked for another in light of the latest story involving the Atlanta woman. Kelly attorney Marc Martin argued that the articles suggest someone is trying to sabotage the case and taint the jury's opinions. He asked for an investigation into the leaks and asked again for the trial to be delayed. Gaughan said that he will see how the jury selection proceeds and render a decision in the coming weeks.
MTV News will have more on this story later in the day.
Don't miss "R. Kelly: When The Gavel Drops," airing on Sunday, May 11, at 2 p.m. ET on MTV2.
For full coverage of the R. Kelly case, see The R. Kelly Reports.