TOP TEN 08′: #1 R. Kelly ‘Cleared Of Charges’

Six years after allegedly having sex with an underage girl on video and releasing countless albums afterward including 2003s multi-platinum selling ‘Chocolate Factory,’ R. Kelly was cleared of all charges related to what he says was hell, ‘I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.’ Kicked off May 9, Kelly’s much-delayed trial became one of the most talked about and most covered trials of 2008, marking an end to years of speculation and the beginning of a firestorm that would include a separate sex tape, an extortion plot, the playing of the alleged sex tape, two trial-halting witnesses, a near mistrial and a full out investigation to determine whether the mole on R. Kelly’s back could be seen in the video. While the trial started on May 9, Kelly did not sit before a jury until May 20th as eleven days jury selection held up the process. Once underway, prosecutors zeroed in on not only proving that the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer was not on the tape, but that the girl, who is now in her 20s, was not on the tape either. Not wasting anytime, prosecutors played the 27-minute homemade video showing a man having sex with a young female, who is naked for most of the recording except for a necklace with a cross dangling from it. Jurors were warned that the video would be played in court during selection. Sons from the Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys blared from a radio in the tape. While things were heating up inside the courtroom, in terms of testimony, things outside the courtroom hit intenrational news when a woman was arrested for yelling “free R. Kelly. Free R.Kelly” at jurors as they entered the building. Tripplet, the woman identified, was immediately arrested for ‘contempt of court’ and held on a $50,000 bond. Going back into the courtroom, testimony in Kelly’s trial became the hot topic at nearly every water cooler around the country as everyone from the alleged girl’s childhood friends, to her father and two aunts, including R&B singer Sparkle who identified the alleged victim as her niece, took the stand. Out of the five testimonies, the most highly charged cross-examination came after the aunt of the alleged victim — and a Chicago police officer — described how she and other relatives viewed and discussed the tape in late 2001, several weeks before someone mailed the tape to the Chicago Sun-Times, which turned it over to authorities. Sam Adam Jr., Kelly’s attorney, repeatedly asked the aunt, Delores Gibbon, why she didn’t immediately go to authorities with the tape if she suspected it was child pornography. Gibbon said she was torn between her job and concern for the alleged victim and her parent. At one point, Adam pounded his fist, saying the aunt didn’t go to authorities because someone in the family wanted to “get back at Mr. Kelly” for a business dispute and hoped to “extort Kelly” in a possible civil lawsuit. After Gibbon’s testimony, the extortion plot continued to thicken for the remainder of the trial which took another interesting turn when Lisa Van Allen, 27, took the stand. Allen’s testimony became the most shocking testimony in the trial. In fact it caused many to believe that Kelly’s troubles were far from over. In early June, Allen testified that she had taken money from the R&B star on numerous occasions that included several three-way sexual encounters with the alleged victim. As if that wasn’t enough, Allen informed prosecutors that Kelly offered her $250,000 nearly a year before to recover a tape of one of the trysts. Shedding tears in court, Van Allen, a former video model, admitted that she had met Kelly at the age of 17 and had sex with him minutes later. Screaming “I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to do it,” Allen depicted what she says was a series of video taped trysts between herself, the victim and R.Kelly, one time on the set at one of singer’s music video shoots. Depicting that particular event inside the singer’s trailer, Van Allen says they were nearly caught in the act, when Kelly allegedly told the 13-year-old girl to hide. Unfortunately for Allen, her testimony ended up being discredited after she admitted to stealing R. Kelly’s $20,000 diamond-studded watch from a hotel – a statement that R. Kelly’s manager Derrel McDavid reveled in when speaking with reporters: “Van Allen is an admitted thief and liar who wouldn’t know the truth if she tripped over it!” Van Allen was later called out for trying to extort money from Kelly, informing the singer that she had a copy of another sex tape. – Van Allen was granted full immunity for testifying in the case according to court documents. After nearly a month of testimony from twenty-two witnesses, closing arguments began in R.Kelly’s then called ‘child pornography’ trial. Friends, family and other acquaintances had identified the victim in question and everything seemed to come down to the mole on Kelly’s back. Facing 15 years in prison if convicted R. Kelly braced himself for the verdict. On June 13th, R. Kelly dabbed his face with a handkerchief and hugged each of the four attorneys after a verdict of not guilty was read. In the end the multi-platinum selling singer escaped 14 counts of video taping himself having sex with a minor who prosecutors say was as young as 13 at the time. As we all know, June 13th was not the only day R.Kelly had to face a courtroom. – For more on R. Kelly, arguably this year’s most discussed R&B star, in and out of court, visit our 2008’s Soul Reckless feature where the singer faces the music with Ne-Yo, Joe, Hot 97’s Funkmaster Flex, BET and more..


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