Child pornography trial begins for US singer R Kelly

The singer, 41, is charged with 14 counts of child pornography, and faces up to 15 years in jail

After six years of delays and millions of dollars in costs, prosecutors finally had the chance to lay out their case against the R&B singer R Kelly today, in the most high-profile trial to be staged in Chicago for decades.

The singer, 41, is charged with 14 counts of child pornography, and faces up to 15 years in jail. He arrived in court, surrounded by associates, more than an hour before the trial began, wearing a blue pinstripe suit and orange and blue tie.

The case concerns a video he is alleged to have made a decade ago showing him having sex with an underage girl. The tape was sent anonymously in 2002 to the Chicago Sun-Times, which had been investigating unrelated allegations involving the star's relations with teenage girls.

According to the prosecution, the 26-minute tape was made between the beginning of 1998 and November 2000, when the girl involved may have been as young as 13.

The case is the highest-profile trial in Cook county criminal court for years. It has been beset with delays after the trial judge fell off a ladder, Kelly had appendicitis and the lead prosecutor had a child.

The prosecution team will have to prove to the jury beyond reasonable doubt that Kelly is the man in the video, which he denies.

More problematic still may be the fact that the girl alleged to be in the footage, now 23, also denies that it was her.
Robert Sylvester Kelly, who was born in the poor south side of Chicago, has sold almost 40m records since he was discovered busking.

He won a Grammy in 1997 for I Believe I Can Fly, which is seen as his signature tune, and has had hits for other songs, many of which had an overtly sexual theme, such as Bump N' Grind.


Ed Pilkington in New York

The GuardianTramp

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