Fourteen years ago, a jury acquitted R. Kelly of producing child sexual abuse images in spite of a horrible video that showed him molesting a 14-year-old girl. The R&B artist was acquitted of all charges and walked free.
Less than a year after Kelly was found guilty in a federal sex crimes case in New York, federal prosecutors in his hometown of Chicago will try to hold him accountable for the tape he is accused of recording. The alleged victim, who was absent from the 2008 trial, is cooperating with prosecutors in the upcoming trial. According to recent documents filed by the defense, she is expected to testify that she was the girl in the video, and that she wasn't telling the truth when she said it wasn't her.
Dave Chappelle parodied the tape on his show. The legs were sold in Chicago, Atlanta, New York and other places. Though Kelly is already facing a 30-year prison sentence for decades of sexual abuse, his second federal trial may be a reckoning on the video that helped tie predatory behavior to his public image and expose how he escaped accountability for so long
One of the victims who testified about graphic abuse in the New York trial described how she first met Kelly outside of the Chicago trial.
How many lives would have been spared if he had been found not guilty?
In the upcoming Chicago case, Kelly is accused of 13 counts, including child sexual abuse images and obstruction of justice. He is accused of recording videos of himself sexually abusing the girl in the notorious tape, as well as two other minor girls, and is also facing charges of swindling two more minor girls to engage in criminal sex acts with him. The girl at the center of the 2008 case and her parents were allegedly bribed by him to lie about their relationship with Kelly.
Kelly will be on trial in New York with two people who helped him hide his crimes. The former business manager for Kelly is accused of receiving child sexual abuse images and obstructing justice. A former employee of Kelly's is accused of receiving child sexual abuse images. The three men who have pleaded not guilty have described the women who have accused them as liars.
Attorneys are expected to give opening statements on Monday.
According to the Chicago indictment, Kelly and McDavid paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to a person in 2001 to get the videos of Kelly molesting the girls. While Kelly was on trial for state charges, the pair and their associates paid someone $170,000 to cancel a press conference he was going to hold to announce that he had recovered videos of Kelly sexually abusing children.
According to prosecutors, in 2007, Kelly and McDavid agreed to pay $250,000 to return a tape that showed Kelly having sex with the girl who was the focus of the 2008 case. The tapes depicting Kelly with the individual and the minor were paid for by Kelly and the others. The individuals had to take polygraph exams in order to find out if they had returned all the tapes.
When Kelly was hit with both the Chicago and New York indictments, the details of these accusations were not disclosed by authorities. The allegations of women who said Kelly had abused them were detailed in the docuseries Surviving R. Kelly. In the 2008 trial, Lisa Van Allen testified that she and another man were paid $20,000 to return a different tape showing her having sex with Kelly. The indictment handed down more than a decade later matches Van Allen's claim that Kelly had offered her $250,000. The prosecutors wouldn't say if Van Allen was the woman described in the charge.
It's clear that his reporting and the documentary had an impact on the case finally breaking ground.