Nine witnesses for the prosecution were heard by the jury since testimony began May 20 in the child pornography trial against R&B star R. Kelly. All witnesses called by the prosecution were taken to a conference room in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s
He is accused of filming himselfûbetween Jan. 1, 1998 and Nov. 1, 2000ûhaving sex with an underage female. The alleged victim, who would now be 23 years old, denied being in the video, and so did Kelly. The Chicago native pleaded not guilty, but if convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
Retired Chicago Det. Dan Everett: In February 2002 he and his partners went to the Chicago Sun-Times to get a videotape from a reporter who it was anonymously sent to. Everett said once he saw the tape, he knew the female in the video was a minor because he questioned her about two years prior for another investigation.
Peter Thomas: Identified the female on the tape as the childhood best friend of Simha Jamison, a 24- year-old woman he had legal guardianship over. He heard rumblings throughout Oak Park that a tape was circulating that involved the alleged victim and R. Kelly allegedly having sex. Thomas then discussed it with Jamison and other parents who knew the alleged victim. Simha Jamison: Identified the female on the tape as her childhood best friend.
She said the female’s hairstyleûûa mulletûûwas a telling factor in her identification, as well as some of her mannerisms. Jamison and the alleged victim had matching hairstyles. She said she saw Kelly dozens of times, including at his home, two music studios and Hoops Gym. According to Jamison, R. Kelly often gave the alleged victim money, because he was considered her godfather, and Jamison also received $100 from Kelly for her 13th birthday.
Jamison said she never saw anything inappropriate between Kelly and the alleged victim. Bennie Edwards Sr.: Identified the female on the tape as his niece. He often answered the defense’s questions with “I don’t recall.” He initially said he viewed the tape for the first time a few minutes before he testified.
On cross-examination, he was asked if he remembered telling the grand jury that he saw the tape. Edwards said yes, then no, then yes, then finally, “I don’t recall.” Chicago Police Officer Delores Gibson: Identified the female on the tape as her former niece. Gibson is the ex-wife of Bennie Edwards Sr. Gibson said she became aware of the videotape by her then-sister-in-law, Stephanie “Sparkle” Edwards.
Edwards brought the tape to Gibson’s home and they both viewed it. Once it was over, Gibson said Edwards took the tape with her. Gibson then suggested to the alleged victim’s parents that they contact an attorney.
The defense asked Gibson why she did not uphold the law and confiscate what she thought was child pornography and take it to the authorities. Gibson said the matter was sensitive and she did what she thought was best at the time. The defense accused her of taking part in a scheme to extort money from Kelly.
She denied the accusations. Mary Kay Jerit: Identified the alleged victim as the childhood friend of her daughter, Aubrey Hampton. She also mentioned the “mullet” hairstyle. Jerit works for the Department of Children and Family Services. Jerit heard rumors in the west suburbs that a tape was floating around allegedly depicting her daughter’s friend and R. Kelly having sex. She later found an unmarked videotape in her daughter’s room and watched it. Once she saw that it was the tape she heard about, she immediately “threw it in the trash.”
On cross-examination, Jerit was asked why she didn’t report the tape to her superiors or the police, since she worked for DCFS. Aubrey Hampton: Identified the alleged victim as her childhood friend. “There’s no question,” Hampton said about her friend’s identity. She also distinctly remembered the way the alleged victim “licked the bottom of her lip.”
Hampton, while with the alleged victim, said she met Kelly at a basketball party. Adra Gengler: Identified the alleged victim as a friend of her daughter’s. Her daughter played basketball with the alleged victim in elementary and high school. Gengler referred to the alleged victim’s hairstyle and voice when asked how she was sure it was the alleged victim. She saw the video for the first time right before she testified.
Before then she was shown two still pictures from the video of the alleged victim and identified her that way. Initially, she was 80 percent sure it was the alleged victim. Once she saw the tape, Gengler was 100 percent sure. She cried during cross-examination and said she didn’t want to see the tape and turned it off right after the face of the female and male were shown. “It’s very upsetting to my familyàmy daughter.
I just want it to go away.” Once she was excused from the witness stand, she said, “Oh my God!” Stephanie “Sparkle” Edwards: Identified the alleged victim as her niece. “You know your blood. You just know your family,” Edwards said. Edwards, a former backup singer for Kelly, and a recording artist who was previously signed with Kelly’s record label, said she received a call from an attorney who wanted her to view a tape that may involve one of her relatives.
Once she saw the tape, she notified family members and arranged for them to view it as well. Edwards also viewed the video with a Sun-Times reporter. The defense asked if she ever contacted the police about the tape. She said no, then later said yes.
She also stated that she never had a copy of the tape. Previous testimony from Delores Gibson stated that Edwards brought the tape to Gibson’s home and they viewed it together. The defense asked if Gibson and Bennie Edwards Sr. lied when they said she brought the tape so the family could see it; “Big time,” Edwards said.
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