Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Jury Selection Begins For The R. Kelly Trial

Aaron McGruder’s cartoon “The Boondocks” settled this issue with a trial over three years ago. It appears that real life could learn a lesson from reel life. He was found not guilty on “The Boondocks” and I wouldn’t doubt if he goes free in the upcoming trial, which is almost six years after the alleged crime was committed. My problem with this trial is that it should have taken place back in 2002 when witnesses and facts were fresh. After the passing of nearly six years both R. Kelly and the supposed victim (who is now an adult) both deny that they were even in the video.

Attorneys in R&B superstar R. Kelly's child pornography trial are expected to begin questioning 150 potential jurors on Monday and it is unlikely any of his fans will be chosen to hear the allegations against one of urban music's biggest stars. Selecting a jury should take about a week, and the trial itself could take several weeks. A jury was chosen for the Michael Jackson and O.J. Simpson trials and find one will be selected for this trial too. The selection of the 16 jurors, four of them alternates, will be key for both prosecutors and defense attorneys.

The 41-year-old hitmaker, known for sexually charged hits like "Bump N' Grind," has pleaded not guilty to charges that he videotaped himself having sex with a girl as young as 13.
This is a case where a celebrity has good and bad public images, on one hand he is singing the gospel-like “I Believe I Can Fly” and on the other he is performing sexually infused songs like “Ignition” .

When the trial gets under way, prosecutors will face a daunting challenge: The girl believed to be on the videotape, who is now 23, says it wasn't her. Prosecutors say the videotape was made between Jan. 1, 1998, and Nov. 1 2000, and that the girl who appears in it was born in September 1984. Kelly was indicted on pornography charges June 5, 2002, after the tape surfaced.

I am definitely not taking up for R. Kelly, but let us look at this issue from a historical perspective.

— When Jerry Lee Lewis, rock’n’roll musician, married his 13-year-old cousin, Myra Gale Brown, in 1957, radio stations refused to play his music, bookings were cancelled and several years passed before his career recovered

Miami Vice actor Don Johnson was 22 when he began a four-year relationship with 14-year-old Melanie Griffith. She moved in with him and they were married three years later. She went on to become a star in her own right

— In 1992 film director Woody Allen was accused of sleeping with his partner Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter Soon Yi Previn. She was 21, he was 56. They were later married

— Elvis Presley met Priscilla in 1959 in Germany, where her father was stationed at an airbase near Friedberg. Elvis, too, was based there while in the army. She was invited to a party at Elvis’s home. Priscilla was 14, Elvis 24. They married eight years later in 1967

— Bill Wyman started “dating” 13-year-old Mandy Smith in 1983 when he was 47. They married six years later – and divorced two years after that

The only difference is that Kelly's indiscretion was caught on film. Were any of these performers prosecuted? NO. Should they have been? YES, that is if we are playing by the same set of rules. This has been happening for years, yet no one has been prosecuted for the offense until now.

Check out this clip from "The Trial of R. Kelly".


The Rock Chick said...

Honestly, it's been so long since R Kelly was charged, I couldn't even remember the details.

My opinion is this...if he knowingly had sex with a minor and videotaped it, then he should be behind bars regardless of what other celebrities may have done and/or gotten away with.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out since the minor in question on the tape is denying it's her.

X. Dell said...

Well, as you have pointed out, there's some dispute as to who is in he video. That might have had something to do with the prosecution dragging its feet on the charges. I've never seen it, actually, so I don't know how closely those depicted resemble Kelly and the woman said to have been in them.

It does remind me, however, of Chuck Berry's conviction on violations of the Mann Act. As in Kelly's case, the woman in question here was an adult by the time the case went to trial.

Selective prosecution has been a problem for all African Americans, who typically receive far stiffer penalties, and far more rigorous prosecution. It's not that I think that people should merely be excused for a crime because others of their status were. But I do think that people need to keep things in context.

pjazzypar said...


I agree that if he knowingly had sex with an underage girl than he should definitely pay the piper (no pun intended). I was merely pointing out all of the "free passes" given other celebrities and stating emphatically that others have indeed gotten away with blatant sexual abuse of minors.

My point that we know what these other celebrities did, yet it has just been dismissed. We can't find anyone to testify against Robert Kelly. Maybe that is why this has dragged on so long. I appreciate you commenting because I am really interested in knowing what others think about this trial.


I saw a snippet of video back in 2002 when all of this happened. At that time I was positive it was Robert Kelly, however I do not know if I could be as certain today. Because the big question remains, Why didn't they prosecute in 2002?

I had forgotten about Chuck Berry's violation of the Mann Act. I was a little girl at the time and I remember adults talking about how he had transported a white woman across state lines and was locked up for doing so. That law was enacted to outlaw "white slavery" or the transporting of female across state lines for the purpose of prostituting them, not dating them. I believe that was Chuck's girlfriend.

You know selective or heavy handed prosecution remains a problem in the judicial system. If R. did it he should pay, but I really don't think that is going to happen, if past celebrity trials are any indication.

On a limb with Claudia said...

This is such a frustrating situation. Even if it is the girl, her parents introduced her to R.Kelly - pushed them together. If her parents don't care, why should I?

Malcolm said...

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out. I just read a story about how the defense lost two battles regarding the jury selection: they wanted a more diverse panel and they also fought to keep a rape victim from being among those selected.

This trial should have been over and done with a long time ago. As I have said in the past, had the underage girl been white, R. Kelly would have been up under the jail.

pjazzypar said...

Hey Malcolm,

Under the jail indeed. You are right, it should have taken place six years ago. It's laughable that the prosecution thinks it will get a conviction after all these years later. I didn't know about the defense's jury selection woes, but I am banking that they have absolutely nothing to worry about. The public has a very short memory, what outrages us initially tends to fade with the passing of time.