Singer R Kelly cleared of child porn charges after six-year battle

R&B star walks free from court in Chicago after jury clears him of appearing in a sex tape with an underage girl

The singer R Kelly walked free from a court in Chicago yesterday after a jury cleared him of appearing in a sex tape with an underage girl, ending a lurid six-year ordeal for the R&B star.

After deliberating for less than a day, jurors acquitted Kelly on 14 charges of child pornography. The Grammy award-winning singer dabbed away tears and hugged his defence lawyers.

During a three-week trial, the prosecutors had alleged that the 41-year-old, whose real name is Robert Kelly, was visible in an explicit 27-minute video sent anonymously to the Chicago Sun-Times's music critic in 2002.

If convicted, he would have faced up to 15 years in prison. The prosecution claimed the tape showed Kelly having sex with his goddaughter, who was then aged 13, although she denied any involvement. A crucial courtroom argument revolved around whether the man in the tape had a mole on his back similar to a mark on Kelly's body.

Greeted by a crowd of cheering fans, he left the courthouse without speaking and was hustled by bodyguards into a waiting sports utility vehicle, which drove him to a nearby park where supporters were waiting.

A spokesman for the singer, Allan Mayer, said Kelly had had faith that he would be cleared: "Robert has said all along that he believes in our system, and he believes in God. He did not expect it to take six and a half years. This has been a terrible ordeal for him and his family."

A dozen witnesses claimed the girl in the tape was Kelly's goddaughter, including several of her childhood friends.

Kelly had a string of hits in the 1990s including I Believe I can fly and the raunchy Bump n' Grind. He continued recording throughout his legal troubles and is due to release an album next month.


Andrew Clark in New York

The GuardianTramp

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