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CHICAGO — Jurors began deliberating in R. Kelly’s child pornography trial Thursday with the graphic sex tape at the center of the case fresh in their minds.
Prosecutors replayed the video during closing arguments, while defense attorneys reiterated that it’s neither Kelly nor the person the state says was the underage girl — now a 23-year-old woman — on the tape. For three weeks, jurors have heard family members of the alleged victim, basketball coaches, forensics experts and others testify as to their identities.
While the tape rolled for a second time — the first was during opening statements last month — prosecutors told jurors that the man is Kelly, and that he controlled the encounter with the underage female, who was as young as 13 at the time.
“We’re going to see his direction,” Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Heilengoetter said as the video played. He is “directing her to dance, where to stand, when to stop urinating,” he said.
Kelly denies that the man in the video is him.
At one point in the video, entered into evidence as “People’s Exhibit No. 1,” the female dances and urinates on the floor — the man out of view. Back in view, he has sex with her. In one scene near the end of the video, alluded to in one count of the indictment, the man urinates on the female.
The monthlong trial has centered on whether Kelly is the man who appears on the 27-minute videotape, and whether a female who also appears on it is underage.
Kelly, 41, has pleaded not guilty to 14 counts of child pornography. Both he and the alleged victim, now 23, deny being on the tape and neither testified at trial.
Defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. told jurors that charges against Kelly came about because people were trying to extort money from the Grammy winner because the man on the tape “may favor him.”
“That’s what this is about — money, money, money,” Adam said.
He also suggested that prosecutors pressured people into testifying against Kelly.
Over seven days presenting their case, prosecutors called 22 witnesses, including several childhood friends of the alleged victim and four of her relatives who identified her as the female on the video. Some said she had referred to Kelly as her “godfather.”
In just two days, Kelly’s lawyers called 12 witnesses. They included three relatives of the alleged victim who testified they did not recognize her as the female on the tape.
Adam said that the alleged victim’s relatives know it’s not her on the video because “any solid man in that family, any solid woman in that family would have gone over there and broken his legs, would have gone over there and beat the crap out of him.”
The family also would have arranged for an order of protection against Kelly, but none of that happened, Adam said.
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