R. Kelly trial: A family divided

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The salacious videotape at the center of the child pornography case against R&B singer R. Kelly caused a rift in the alleged victim’s family, the jury heard Wednesday.

A parade of the alleged victim’s relatives testified for the defense that the female in the nearly half-hour sexually explicit homemade film was not their relative, and since the tape surfaced the family who used to be “thick as thieves” were now divided as a result of the allegations. Kelly, 41, whose name is Robert S. Kelly, is charged with multiple counts of child pornography for allegedly videotaping himself and a minor — between 1998 and 2000 — having sex. He and the alleged victim, who would now be 23 years old, denied being in the video. The Chicago native faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted. When asked during cross-examination if the family was split because a few relatives who saw the 27-minute sex tape wanted an attorney and the police involved, versus family members — including the alleged victim’s parents — who did not believe it was her and declined to cooperate, Leroy Edwards Jr. responded, “I guess you could say that.” Edwards Jr., 46, managed the group “4 The Cause” that consisted of the alleged victim, his daughter, son and nephew when they were youths. He was never approached by authorities, nor had he initiated contact with them regarding the tape, and saw it for the first time last week at one of Kelly’s attorney’s office. Edwards Jr. agreed to speak with Kelly’s defense team at the request of the alleged victim’s father. After reviewing the tape, Ed Genson, Kelly’s lead attorney, asked if the female in the video was his relative. “There’s no way,” he replied. When prosecutors put up a split screen with a photo of the alleged victim, as identified by Edwards Jr., and a still photo of the female in the video, he was asked if there was a possibility that it was the same person. “Not at all,” Edwards Jr. testified. Shonna Edwards, 27, the daughter of Edwards Jr., who was also in the music group with the alleged victim, said “No. It definitely wasn’t her.” When asked if the alleged victim’s body was as developed as the female’s in the video when authorities said the tape was made about eight to 10 years ago, Edwards, who said she had her last contact with the alleged victim about two months ago, testified, “Not even close.” Also denying that her relative is the female in the tape was Charlotte Edwards. Four relatives of the alleged victim previously testified for the prosecution they had no doubts that the female in the video was their relative, who would have been about 13 or 14 years old at that time.

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Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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