R Kelly could finally be convicted over infamous child sex tape
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After being acquitted by a jury of producing sexual abuse images back in 2008, a new trial has finally been set to for R. Kelly over his alleged involvement in the creation of a now-notorious video tape.
The rapper walked away scot-free from a federal sex crimes case in New York fourteen years ago, despite the horrifying video tape being presented to the court room.
The video in question showed Robert Sylvester Kelly allegedly sexually assaulting and urinating on a girl who was revealed to be just 14.
The new trial – set to begin on Monday (15 August) – will focus on the video tape, thanks to the co-operation of the alleged victim, who was absent fourteen years ago.
R. Kelly and his two former employees deny the charges.
The rapper is already facing a 30-year prison stretch for sexual abuse offences which span several decades.
Such was the frivolous handling of the tape by much of the US media, that it was even paraded in a 2003 sketch on Dave Chappelle's Comedy Central show.
“The most important thing about this trial is to highlight the travesty of justice that was the 2008 Cook County State’s Attorney's trial,” Jim DeRogatis, the Chicago journalist who broke the story about the tape for the Chicago Sun-Times in 2002, told BuzzFeed.
All in all, Kelly will be presented with 13 counts in the trial, which includes charges of receiving child abuse images and obstructing justice.
Steven Block, a former assistant US attorney in Chicago, said the Department of Justice has strict guidelines for when it chooses to charge someone with a federal crime after they were already acquitted for the equivalent state crime.
"It’s likely that, given the allegations of obstruction in the 2008 case and the changed circumstances with the alleged victim, prosecutors were able to show a compelling interest to lodge federal charges", Block said.
However, DeRogatis questioned the value of moving ahead with another Chicago trial following on from the New York conviction. This is because Kelly, who is already in his mid-50s, will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars even without a conviction in the Chicago case.
“Whatever loose ends remain to this case, it's not the ones that really should be tied up,” DeRogatis added.
“I think it's just going to be enormously traumatising to everyone involved.”
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence regarding the welfare of a child, contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, 8am–10pm Monday to Friday, 9am–6pm weekends. If you are a child seeking advice and support, call Childline for free on 0800 1111