It took six years to bring him to trial but less than 24 hours for a jury to find R Kelly not guilty of having sex with an underage girl. The Grammy award-winning singer dabbed tears from his eyes and thanked Jesus as he was cleared of all 14 counts relating to child pornography at Cook County court in Chicago on Friday. The charges related to a video that prosecutors alleged showed Kelly, now 41, engaging in numerous sex acts with an underage girl. Both the singer and the unnamed girl, who is now 23, deny their involvement.
One of the prosecution witnesses who claimed she had had a three-way sexual encounter with Kelly and the girl in question was labelled an extortionist by the defence, who claimed she sought money from Kelly in exchange for her silence. The prosecution also claimed it was a near impossibility that the tape had been tampered with, while the defence showed the jury their own version of the tape in question after they had doctored it in an attempt to bring the authenticity of the tape into question.
In the end, it appeared to come down to whether the jury was convinced it was the underage girl who appeared in the video. One juror told reporters: "You want to be 100% sure it's Kelly and (the alleged victim). What we had wasn't enough." Another said: "All of us felt very much the grayness of this case." Associated Press report that a vote taken just a few hours before the acquittal had seven jurors voting not guilty and five voting guilty. None of the five jurors who spoke to reporters after the verdict wanted to be identified. The singer would have faced a jail sentence of up to 15 years if found guilty.
Following his acquittal, a spokesman for the singer released a statement saying: "When all the facts came out in court, he would be cleared of these terrible charges. All he wants to do is move forward and put it behind him."
R Kelly is due to release a new album in July.