Prompted by the release of the show Surviving R. Kelly, allegations of statutory rape are in the spotlight once again. R. Kelly has maintained his innocence throughout 25 years of indictments and lawsuits and has never been convicted of anything yet this has done little to quell the public’s belief that R. Kelly is a sexual predator.
It began in 1994 when R. Kelly married the hit R&B singer Aaliyah. Kelly produced Aaliyah’s poorly-named album Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number. Despite that, Aaliyah’s age was listed at 18 on her marriage certificate. There are situations in which a 15-year-old may be permitted to marry someone older, but they would require the consent of their parents to sign off on the arrangement. According to those close to Kelly, he had the marriage certificate forged. The marriage was annulled months later. Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001.
While there were many questions that surrounded that marriage, Kelly has refused to comment on them. But that proved not to be the only situation that raised eyebrows.
Kelly Indicted on 21 Counts of Child Pornography
In 2002, one year after his former wife died, Chicago police charged Kelly with 21 counts of unlawful possession and creation of child pornography. Chicago police accused Kelly of recording a sexual encounter between himself and an underage woman. Interestingly enough, Kelly was never charged with statutory rape despite the sexual encounter involving himself and a woman the police said was underage.
Kelly went on to deny that the individual in the video was him. But he was tracked down in Florida. To be sure, Kelly was never accused of being in the video. The police accused him of directing and producing it. He was also charged with the unlawful enticement of a minor. A day after he was tracked down in Florida, Kelly was formally charged. According to Florida police, Kelly was found with more child pornography on a camera and charged with 12 counts of manufacturing child pornography by the State of Florida.
The Florida charges were tossed out after a judge ruled that police had improperly seized the camera. In Illinois, 7 of the 21 counts would be dropped because Kelly was charged under a law that had not been passed when the videotaping occurred.
That left 14 counts of producing and possessing child pornography that would go before an Illinois jury. The case would drag on for six years amid increasingly bizarre delays. At one point, the presiding judge fell from a ladder delaying the case and later, the case was paused after a prosecutor delivered her baby.
When the trial finally happened, it lasted three weeks. Kelly’s defense attorneys told the jury that it was neither Kelly nor the victim who appeared on the tape. The victim did not testify in the case. There were, however, witnesses for the prosecution who corroborated the claim that the victim was the girl shown on the tape. This included family members.
The defense succeeded in convincing the jury that the family was only after money. The girl’s had an aunt who was a police officer but the family never went to the police. Instead, they got a lawyer. Kelly was acquitted on all counts and walked out of the courtroom a free man.
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