Prosecutors ended their rebuttal case against R. Kelly on Friday with a spectacular and unusual turn, asking the four “female gang members” who had been featured in the child pornography case to stand and take the stand to defend their friend. “Well, I’m sorry to be rude, but I know this is going to be uncomfortable,” Assistant State’s Attorney James Lewis said, but he had only one question: “How do you feel?” Each
one stood and said, “I’m OK,” then walked out of the courtroom. Prosecutors have insisted that, along with three other women who testified earlier in the week, these women are in fact “R. Kelly’s women.” The government alleges that the “rapist,” as Kelly has called himself, infected these young women with a sexually transmitted disease and abused and treated them as sex slaves. Kelly, 47, was sentenced on Friday to
between seven and 15 years in prison for child pornography. But his sentencing hearing was not complete, and prosecutors had rested their case with one female witness, a 15-year-old. The teenage girl had testified earlier this week that Kelly had lured her into his life of prostitution. Special prosecutors Nick Roti and Robert Lyons asked for a mistrial from Judge Milton Shadur, after Shadle noticed that one of the
government’s prosecutors had received an email about one of the young women at the center of the trial. The court reporter did not identify the email as an anonymous letter, and Roti said he later learned from media outlets that an anonymous tip had actually been filed on social media with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The email was sent to Shadur’s office, and when prosecutors contacted the
center to inquire, officials denied sending it, Roti said. Jurors were not allowed to see the email. Shadle ordered the retrial within two days. That will delay the next days of closing arguments scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday. R. Kelly’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, is expected to talk about why Kelly believes the women on trial are part of a conspiracy to target his client. Plaintiffs’ attorney Ed Genson said in
court, “This case should never have been brought.” Kelly, who was acquitted of child pornography charges after his 2008 trial, has denied the allegations and says they are part of a public campaign against him. His lawyers have argued that the government has no evidence. Avenatti has pushed the cases of three young women, Aaliyah Ali, Kristi Lynn Kelly and Joycelyn Savage, against Kelly. They had all been featured in
the 2009 child pornography trial, in which Kelly was found not guilty of producing and possessing child pornography after a videotape showed him having sex with an underage girl. Aaliyah was just 15 at the time. In April, Kelly reached a financial settlement with Aaliyah’s mother, Queen Latifah, to settle their long-standing dispute over his alleged part in the death of the late R&B singer’s sister, Lisa Storie.