Six years after he was charged with videotaping himself having sex with an underage girl, R&B superstar R. Kelly went on trial on Friday, with his alleged victim prepared to deny she is not the person on the tape.
Kelly has been charged with 14 counts of videotaping, producing or soliciting child pornography. Prosecutors argue he knew, or should have known, the girl was a teenage minor.
Judge Vincent Gaughan rejected a request from Kelly’s lawyers to delay the trial because of recent publicity. The proceeding, already postponed numerous times, is expected to last up to seven weeks, with jury selection continuing Monday.
Prosecutors say the lurid 26-minute tape was made between January 1998 and November 2000 when the girl was 13 or 14.
The alleged victim, who is now in her 20s, has denied she is the girl on the tape and could testify in Kelly’s defense, according to court records. Kelly’s lawyers have argued it is not him on the tape either.
In a 2003 interview with the Chicago Tribune, Kelly said he was no pedophile, saying: "I’ve always loved women. … But I don’t have a bag with little suckers in it, hiding behind some tree talking about, ‘Come here, little girl.’ Not me."