Prosecutors Add Two New Witnesses in R. Kelly Trial

Two new state witnesses in the R. Kelly child pornography case are expected to corroborate prosecutors’ claims about the identity of the girl who allegedly was videotaped having sex with the R&B star, sources said. Cook County Circuit Judge Vincent Gaughan allowed prosecutors to add the two to their list of witnesses in advance of the May 9 trial. The new witnesses likely will bolster the prosecution’s case, which has been challenged by the fact that the girl who allegedly was videotaped having sex with the R&B star has denied being in the video. In January, the judge rebuffed a bid by prosecutors to allow an expert to testify about the girl’s denial. Kelly, 40, was indicted in June 2002 on child pornography charges, accused of videotaping himself having sex with an underage girl. Prosecutors have said the girl may have been as young as 13 at the time. Sources said both witnesses knew Kelly and the girl about the time the video was made. One witness has worked for Kelly and had met girl. The other was a friend of the girl and had met Kelly, sources said. He faces as many as 15 years in prison if convicted. The identities of all witnesses are kept secret, according to the judge’s order. Both parties also are under a gag order. Edward Genson, Kelly’s lawyer, expressed frustration in court Wednesday, stating that he believed that neither side was allowed to add new witnesses this close to the trial, but did not object to the new witnesses. Assistant State’s Atty. Shauna Boliker said the two new potential witnesses “just recently came into our knowledge.” Attorneys for both sides met privately before the court hearing. Genson said in court that he already had interviewed one of the new witnesses, who both sides said was from the Chicago area. But he said he had no information about the second person. Gaughan said both sides could question the two witnesses before the start of trial. The judge called the last-minute request to add witnesses “extraordinary.” Although he approved the new witnesses, he said he didn’t want to push back the trial, noting that the case has come up on his docket 112 times. Both sides will be back in court April 1 to discuss jury instructions. Source: Chicago Tribune

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