June 2008 Archives

Kelly superfans attended every day of trial

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"From the beginning, I thought he was innocent. I never had any doubt they would find him not guilty. And when they read the verdict, I wanted to scream, but I didn't. I had to control my happiness until I got outside."

That's from 23-year-old Keyonia Jones, one of the superfans profiled in an interesting piece from MTV News who attended the R. Kelly trial every day — who watched him make his entrance, who watched him go to lunch, who ran outside the building at the end of each day to watch him leave the courthouse. They left their children with sitters, they took time off work. All to stand by their man.

How did Hannah Montana get involved in this?

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Attorney Sam Adam Jr. delivered the opening and closing arguments for the defense in the R. Kelly child-porn trial. In so doing, he was noted for throwing in a lot of pop-cultural references, from "The Office" to Gary Coleman to the Wayans brothers and other jokey asides. He explained it to MTV News this way: "If you like someone, you give them the benefit of the doubt. And to give them the pop-culture references, to do those kinds of things, will certainly make you relate with the jury much better. I tried to do it for the young kids with Dave Chappelle; I tried to do it with the middle-aged ones who were more religious — like the preacher's wife — and give her Bible verses; and I tried to do with the older ones with [1950s TV show] 'The Honeymooners' and Ralph Kramden and the 'old squeeze play.' "

And that's how Miley Cyrus found her way into it ...

Kelly trial post-mortem

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The arguments in court may have ended, but the dispute about what the R. Kelly trial means is likely to rage for some time.

Pop critic Jim DeRogatis (who broke the story of the tape at the center of the case) and columnist Mary Mitchell have their say in today's Sun-Times.

And Bill Wyman, who has been closely following the case at his blog, Hitsville, says he always insisted you can’t go wrong betting that the rich guy gets off.

But Slate's Josh Levin thinks "it's possible that the jury would've acquitted if the defense had said absolutely nothing."

That girl on the go thinks the main difference between R. Kelly's trial and O.J. Simpson's was that the victim wasn't white.

To an outside observer looking at the case in the context of other celebrity trials, Kelly's acquittal may seem unsurprising. But it's worth noting that in a private last-minute straw poll of the 20 plus reporters in court to cover the case, not one predicted that Kelly would be completely cleared (many did predict a hung jury, however).

Whether you think this says more about the media or the jury probably depends on your own view of the verdict.

In that vein, here's one final, sad footnote: TV reporter Randi Belisomo's personal take on a small moment at the margins of the Kelly trial.

TMZ reports that nearly half of the R. Kelly trial jurors report the ultimate deciding factor in their not-guilty verdict was the absence of the alleged victim from the trial. Even though they "absolutely believed" it was him on the tape.

"Five of the twelve jurors met with reporters immediately after handing down the acquittal," TMZ reports. "They said they just couldn't reach a verdict even though they voted on the hour, every hour because the alleged victim hadn't testified and refused to cooperate. As recently as this morning, we're told, the vote was split nine to three for a not guilty verdict."

Prosecution witness 'surprised' by verdict

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Lisa Van Allen, of Georgia, departs the Cook County Criminal Court Building after she testified for the prosecution June 2 in the child pornography trial of R&B singer R. Kelly in Chicago. (AP)

Lisa Van Allen, the star prosecution witness in the R. Kelly trial, says she's surprised by today's verdict.

"I am surprised that they made the decision this quickly," Van Allen tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "My job was to tell the truth and that is what I did. I will never regret that."

Not guilty. What do you think?

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R. Kelly leaves the Cook County Court House this afternoon and was found not guilty on all charges. (Scott Stewart/Sun-Times)

The jury has declared R. Kelly is not guilty on all counts levied against him in his child-pornography trial.

On this blog, we've seen numerous comments from readers on both sides of the issues — vigorous defenses of Kelly, vehement attacks on him, too. How will the verdict affect your outlook on Kelly, the man, his music, and the charges brought against him?

Comment below ...

As the dust settles from the R. Kelly not-guilty verdict, Entertainment Weekly rounds up the 50 Biggest Celeb Scandals Since 1985, with Kels leading the list.

As we await the reading of the verdict today, USA Today offers another consideration of R. Kelly's career post-trail, whether found guilty or innocent. The article quotes sources claiming that the verdict has already been rendered in public opinion.

There's also a hilarious, possibly ironic quotation by a source explaining the poor reception of Kelly's latest single, "Hair Braider." It didn't fall flat because of the child porn charges, says this radio exec, it's because "hair braiding isn't relevant anymore. If he wants to strive for the young (18-to-24 audience), he has to understand their tastes and lifestyle."

Juror wants out of R. Kelly trial

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There was more jury drama this morning in the R. Kelly trial this morning as a juror asked to be excused.

It isn't yet clear why the juror, a black male in his 30s or 40s who is a student at a culinary school, wants out, or whether the judge will agree to his request.

The juror sent the judge a note which read, "How can I be removed and go home? I really need to."

Gaughan has now allowed the jury to stop for lunch. He'll resolve the issue when everyone returns in an hour or so.

The jury has also asked for a second TV and VCR so that they can compare two tapes at the same time. They already have one VCR, a copy of the notorious sex tape at the center of the case and a tape which shows pop videos in which the alleged victim appears.

Judge Gaughan will also rule on this request after lunch. He told Kelly's attorneys that he wants Kelly, who missed this latest courtroom exchange, to remain in the building from now on.

A juror who exchanged angry words with a waiter while eating dinner with his fellow jurors last night has narrowly escaped being kicked off the jury by Judge Gaughan this morning.

Deputies who have been keeping round-the-clock tabs on the jury since it was sequestered last night told Gaughan the juror had become enraged that he had to wait to be served a beer.

The juror, a white man in his 30s or 40s, told the waiter, "I've been waiting for f****** half an hour — how long do I have to wait? All I want is a couple of beers and a hamburger."

Jury resumes deliberations

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The jury came back into the building and resumed its deliberations at 8:30 a.m. They deliberated for nearly three and a half hours Thursday. If they can't reach a verdict today, Judge Gaughan is expected to tell them to continue deliberating into the weekend.

Publicity still from the 1957 movie, "12 Angry Men."

With R. Kelly's fate in the hands of 12 jurors tonight, there's no shortage of pundits willing to guess the verdict.

MTV News decided there was nobody likelier to accurately predict the odds of a conviction than a bunch of bookies.

Bill Wyman at Hitsville, Scott Smith at Time Out Chicago and this guy who swears a lot are all unimpressed with Sam Adam Jr.'s closing argument.

Regardless, most people outside the courtroom have already made their minds up about the case, according to Steve Jones's USA Today story.

And as of 10 p.m. Thursday night, 67% of respondents to a Blender magazine click-poll think Kelly is "completely screwed."

If Kelly is convicted, this Canadian who sells duck hunting decoys on eBay may want to change his name.

Jurors sent to hotel for the night

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Judge Vincent Gaughan has told jurors in the R. Kelly child porn case to stop deliberating — and sent them to a hotel for the night.

Jurors deliberated for more than three hours Thursday afternoon without reaching a verdict. At 5: 50 p.m., Gaughan called them back into his courtroom.

"We're going to make some accomodation for you," the judge told them. He ordered sheriff's deputies to bring the jurors back to the courthouse at 8:30 a.m. Friday to resume deliberations.

Jury requests transcripts

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The R. Kelly jury requested a trial transcript shortly before 4:30 p.m.

The jury of eight whites and four blacks — nine men and three women — asked for transcripts of the entire trial. Failing that, they wanted a transcript of the direct and cross-examinations of Lisa Van Allen. Judge Vincent Gaughan told them no and to resume deliberating.

Van Allen testified June 2 that she had engaged in threesomes with R. Kelly and the girl who allegedly appears in the sex videotape at issue in this case. She said one of the trysts was videotaped by Kelly, and that Kelly's business manager later paid her $20,000 for the tape's return.

Boliker rebuts Sam Jr.

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Rising to rebut Sam Adam Jr.'s closing argument, prosecutor Shauna Boliker told jurors, "this is not a whodunit. It's a 'he did it'."

"The one thing they can't get out from under is that videotape," Boliker said. "They can't, because you're not going to let them do that."

Adam argued passionately for about an hour, quoting sources from Corinthians to Ralph Cramden, sweat dripping from his face. Boliker was more measured. But one by one, she took aim at questions Adam had raised about the prosecution's case.

First, she urged jurors not to forget the 14 witnesses who identified the girl on the tape — and said none of them had testified for "pleasure."

"Maybe they haven't seen her in six or seven years, but they identified her in that period of time," Boliker said.

If jurors decide that R. Kelly is guilty they will be telling the world that the alleged victim in his child pornography trial is "a whore," Kelly's attorney said in closing arguments at lunchtime.

Closing arguments have since wrapped up, and the jury began deliberating at 2:30 p.m.

Speaking after prosecutors had showed the jury the notorious sex tape at the center of the case one last time, defense attorney Sam Adam Jr said that the girl on the tape had accepted cash before performing a series of sex acts.

Showing the jury a studio photograph of the alleged victim on a large screen, he then told them that if they were going to find Kelly guilty of 14 counts of child pornography, "you are going to have to call (the alleged victim) 14 times individually and collectively a whore."

Barely audible, he whispered, "My momma told me when we were kids, 'if you ain't got something nice to say about someone, don't say it about her."

He concluded his argument saying, "How are you 14 times going to call her a whore?"

Adam had earlier reasserted his claim that the man on the tape does not have a mole on his back, as Kelly does. "It comes and goes," he said.

But, closing for the prosecution, assistant state's attorney Robert Heilingoetter said, "We're not saying that she's a prostitute - we're saying, based on the evidence that you heard in this trial that she is the victim of child pornography."

He told the 12 jurors and three alternates that, "Today is the opportunity to hold the defendant responsible for the production of this tape," adding, "the opportunity to hold him criminally responsible will never come again."

Closing Arguments: A Preview

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Closing arguments in the R. Kelly child porn case will give the jurors plenty to think about — sex and celebrity, video technology and dermatology, moles and morphing.

But in a trial that has seen its share of bizarre sideshows, the jury's decision will come down to sorting out a few simple facts, according to legal experts.

“It’s not a complicated case," said Leonard Cavise, a professor at the DePaul University College of Law. "You either thinks it’s her and it’s him [on the tape], or you’re done."

Closing arguments are set to begin Thursday morning at 10 a.m. in the courtroom of Judge Vincent Gaughan, where over the past four weeks jurors have listened to testimony by turns salacious and boring. It is up to the prosecutors and defense lawyers to sort through that testimony and hit the points favorable to their case.

Sam Adam Jr. is expected to do the defense's closing argument, sources said. Both Shauna Boliker and Robert Heilingoetter will likely argue for the prosecution, which gets a chance to rebut the defense's closing argument.

Prosecutors will likely emphasize the numerous witnesses who identified the allegedly underage girl on the tape and identified the man as Kelly, experts said. Those witnesses included relatives of the girl, her childhood friends, even her former basketball coach.

Prosecutors can be expected to argue the videotape is real and not the product of digital fakery — and that a dark spot on the male's back matches a mole on Kelly's back. They might also point out that the background on the tape matches photographs of the "log cabin room" in a North Side house Kelly once owned.

Jurors will get sex tape, VCR

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Jurors in the R. Kelly child pornography case will have the original copy of the alleged sex tape during their deliberations, Judge Vincent Gaughan ruled Tuesday. They will also be provided with a VCR and a television set with which to watch the tape.

The defense sought to bar jurors from taking the tape with them into the jury room, saying it might cause them to give it more weight than other evidence.

Defense lawyer Sam Adam Sr. said he had no problem with the jurors reviewing the tape in open court. "The jury sends your honor a note that says they want to see it, that's fine," Adam said.

Rotten tomato hits R. Kelly trial

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A mix-up over a copy of the sex tape at the center of R. Kelly's trial is a "rotten tomato in the barrel," Judge Gaughan said this afternoon as the two sides squared off again over the so-called "mole defense."

It's unclear what measures Gaughan will take about the mix-up—a mistake in the state's attorney's office.

Prosecutors gave Kelly's defense team a copy of the sex tape on DVD two weeks ago, telling them it was an exact copy of the original. But the DVD copy is actually of a lower quality than the original, prosecutor Robert Heilingoetter acknowledged today.

Also, the copy was not made by prosecution video expert Grant Fredericks, as the state had previously claimed, but by a junior member of the state's attorney's staff, Heilingoetter said.

The defense has had access to the original sex tape, but the mistake could prove significant because Kelly's attorneys used the DVD during their questioning of defense video expert, Charles Palm.

Shown frames from the DVD, Palm said he could not see a mole on the man in the tape's back.

Fredericks used a high quality copy of the original tape when he testified, pointing out a spot on the man in the tape's back that corresponds with a mole on Kelly's back.

Both sides signed a stipulation last week, agreeing that the DVD was an accurate copy of the sex tape. That stipulation was read to the jury and will probably now have to be corrected in some form, at a minimum.

New music from Kelly — could he rebound?

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Never one to shy away from the kind of PR advantage a nationally reported child molestation trial can bring, R. Kelly has continued to release — officially and through Internet "leaks" — new music all year long.

His latest, a bouncy and unusually light track called "Body, Body," began making the rounds online this last weekend. Listen to it here.

Defense rests in R. Kelly case

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After just two days of witnesses, R. Kelly's defense team rested Monday morning. The legal team's surprise decision apparently means jurors will not hear from Kelly's "goddaughter" — the female who allegedly appears in the sex tape.

The prosecution plans to put on two rebuttal witnesses on Tuesday: An assistant district attorney from Fulton County, Georgia, and its forensic video expert who has already testified. Closing arguments are expected Thursday.

It's a while since we looked at what the rest of the world is saying about the R. Kelly trial.

The scoop of the week comes from MTV, who have managed to find out just what Shawn Wayans thinks of the "Little Man" defense. (He doesn't seem impressed).

Bravo, Keith and Chuck

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Keith Murrell and Charles Freeman talked a good game when they vowed to arrive in Chicago Thursday night with revelations that would rock the R. Kelly trial.

Friday night they played a good game, making monkeys out of the media, including this reporter.

All week the Kansas City pair have expertly played competing reporters off against each other in the same way a cheating lothario strings along a bevy of smitten lovers, calling us at 3 a.m., not returning our calls, then promising us favors and urgently summoning us to meetings, only to stand us up.

But their elaborate choreography of the trial's press corps reached an impressive crescendo tonight.


Today's testimony started slow in the R. Kelly trial, but things spiced up this afternoon when the jury was shown a video of a headless couple having sex.

Defense expert Charles Palm made the clip from a section of the sex tape at the center of the case, using special effects to illustrate how easy it is to digitally manipulate video. The defense hopes Palm can successfully refute the evidence of prosecution expert Grant Fredericks, who said that the tape could not have been digitally altered. Parts of the media have dubbed this the "Little Man Defense" or the "Wayans Defense."

The clip showed the couple on the tape having sex in what the state says is the hot tub room at Kelly's former home. Their bodies slowly become transparent, then slowly reappear. Then their heads slowly disappear until their two headless bodies are romping. At one point, the man on the tape - his head intact - appears to be having sex with a headless woman.

The heads come and go "like ghosts" on the manipulated tape Palm said.

Jack Palladino — a private investigator best known for being hired by Bill Clinton to track down women he'd been linked with — testified Thursday that the fiance of the prosecution's star witness wanted a $300,000 payoff to keep the witness quiet in the R. Kelly case.

Palladino, of San Francisco, was hired by Kelly to conduct investigations connected to the child pornography case against the singer.

The star witness, Lisa Van Allen, testified Monday that she had engaged in threesomes with R. Kelly and the underage girl who allegedly appears in a sex tape with the singer. As part of her testimony, she said she and her fiance, Yul Brown, met with Palladino in March, and that the investigator threatened her.

Palladino said that even before flying to Atlanta for the meeting, "I had a very good idea they would try to extort money... I wanted to give them the opportunity to commit the crime."

For perhaps the first time since R. Kelly's trial began, this morning's testimony was completely free of drama and the circus-like atmosphere that has enveloped the case.

It felt like a normal trial, almost.

There were no bombshells, just five witnesses in quick succession who the defense hopes will chip away at the state's case.

Wednesday afternoon wrapped up with the testimony of Jason Wallace, a sports agent who doubles as a law clerk for defense lawyers Sam Adam Sr. and Sam Adam Jr.

Wallace went with Sam Jr. to Atlanta on May 9 to meet with Lisa Van Allen after the Sun-Times reported that a witness — who turned out to be Van Allen — was allegedly paid off by a Kelly aide for returning a sex tape. The Sun-Times had previously reported the witness would testify she had a threesome with R. Kelly and the underage girl in the sex video.

At a May 10 meeting in the Atlanta Ritz-Carlton, Van Allen's fiance Yul Brown indicated she would change her testimony in exchange for $350,000, Wallace testified Wednesday.

R. Kelly's defense team kicked off their case this afternoon by calling three relatives of the girl who allegedly appears in the sex tape — each of whom said the girl on the tape is not their relative.

Shonna Edwards, 27, was in a singing group with her relative, now 23, during the 1990s, she said. The group toured throughout Europe, she said.

"Was the female in the tape your [relative]?" asked defense lawyer Ed Genson.

"No, she definitely wasn't her," Shonna Edwards said.

Sun-Times reporter and music critic Jim DeRogatis will not have to testify in R. Kelly's child porn trial after all, Judge Vincent Gaughan ruled this morning.

Kelly's legal team wanted DeRogatis - who broke the story about the sex tape at the center of the case in 2002, and passed a copy to police to investigate - to take the stand for the defense. They said his testimony was "crucial" to Kelly's defense, claiming it would undermine the testimony of prosecution witness Stephanie "Sparkle" Edwards. They have also claimed DeRogatis's reporting has shown an "extreme bias" against Kelly.

Judge Gaughan ruled Friday that DeRogatis had no protection against testifying under either the First Amendment or the Illinois reporter's privilege, reaffirming that decision Tuesday and saying that DeRogatis must testify. The reporter's privilege only protects journalists from revealing their sources, he said.

But this morning Gaughan said that DeRogatis was protected against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment. "He does not have to testify," the judge said.

This trial has already seen its fair share of dramatic witnesses fly in from out of state.

Now two Kansas City men who have not been called as witnesses have promised to arrive in Chicago Thursday with what they say will be devastating revelations about Kelly and his child porn case.

Yul Brown and Lisa Van Allen

Lisa Van Allen, whose testimony about threesomes and sex tapes rocked the R. Kelly trial Monday, is "happy" with her testimony and "glad she got a chance to get her story across," her fiance said Tuesday.

Yul Brown, who himself became a subject of cross-examination when Van Allen was testifying, said "there's a lot more that she'd like to say about this case that she couldn't talk about."

Brown, 38, is engaged to Van Allen, a former girlfriend of Kelly's who met the R&B star when she was 17. She is now 27 and pregnant with her second child.

Judge Vincent Gaughan ordered Sun-Times pop music critic Jim DeRogatis to appear in court Wednesday morning or face contempt of court.

DeRogatis will be required to testify as a defense witness in the child pornography trial of R. Kelly, Gaughan ruled, unless the Illinois Appellate Court issues an emergency stay blocking the ruling before tomorrow morning.

The only other way DeRogatis can avoid testifying is by invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination — a possibility the judge mentioned to this afternoon.

Judge Vincent Gaughan accused Sun-Times lawyer Damon Dunn of making "misrepresentations" in his effort to stave off a subpoena to the paper's pop music critic, Jim DeRogatis. The judge also said he was considering having DeRogatis arrested for not showing up in court today.

Gaughan had ordered DeRogatis and Dunn to appear in court today at 10 a.m., but they did not show. The judge then ordered Dunn to appear at 11:30.

R. Kelly's defense team wants to force DeRogatis to testify about receiving the sex tape at the heart of the case. The music critic received the tape anonymously in 2002 and gave it to police.

DeRogatis is not in the building

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Sun-Times pop music critic Jim DeRogatis has not appeared in court yet, though Judge Vincent Gaughan ordered him to show up this morning at 10 a.m.

As reporters and lawyers gathered in the courtroom, Gaughan was seen leaving through the hallway at 10:15, whistling and carrying a manila file folder. He was wearing a raincoat, as if he planned to leave the building.

Court reconvened at 11:30, and Gaughan berated Sun-Times lawyer Damon Dunn for not showing up earlier with DeRogatis. The judge said he had called the hearing "to see whether I'm going to issue a warrant for the arrest of your client," referring to DeRogatis.

One order of crow for Mr. Martin

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Marc Martin

Defense lawyer Marc Martin had harsh words for the Sun-Times on May 9. That was the first day of jury selection — and the day the Sun-Times ran a front-page exclusive about a woman who had allegedly been in a threesome with Kelly getting paid off for a sex tape.

Martin said the Sun-Times story "is not the subject of any evidence expected to be adduced by the state."

But yesterday, the state adduced exactly that evidence. Prosecutors called to the stand Lisa Van Allen, 27, who testified a Kelly aide paid her and another man $20,000 each for the return of a tape allegedly showing Kelly in a threesome with an underage girl.

R. Kelly's business manager, Derrel McDavid, was identified by Lisa Van Allen today as the man who paid her and another man $20,000 each to turn over a copy of an R. Kelly sex tape.

McDavid has been in court most days during the trial, often sitting next to Kelly at the defense table, whispering discreetly in the star's ear. He was in court again this morning, but he'd gone by the time his name came up.

When Van Allen mentioned his name, it reminded me of a passing encounter I witnessed a couple of weeks ago during jury selection. MTV News writer Jennifer Vineyard grabbed McDavid in the corridor outside the court and, noting that he'd been talking to Kelly, asked who he was.

His response?

Ed Genson.

Ed Genson, one of the attorneys representing R. Kelly, provided one of the most memorable moments in the trial when he boomed "I'm not your sweetie!" at Stephanie "Sparkle" Edwards.

This afternoon he provided another. Objecting to a copy of Kelly's album, "R." being admitted into evidence for the jury to peruse, Genson told Judge Gaughan that the sexually explicit lyrics in the liner notes could prejudice the jury against Kelly.

Asked by Gaughan precisely what lyrics he objected to the jury seeing, Genson then read the lyrics from one song on the album at length. Genson's soft voice could not be fully heard from the press benches, but his performance was enough to reduce prosecutor Shauna Boliker and everyone else within earshot to fits of giggles.

As Genson recited the lyrics, Kelly covered his face.

Click here for all the lyrics to all the songs on "R."

Gaughan decided that the jury can have the CD, but the lyrics will be blacked out.

State rests in Kelly trial

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The state has rested its case in the R. Kelly child porn trial.

Prosecutor Shauna Boliker had no further questions for star witness Lisa Van Allen after today's late lunch break.

The state had been expected to call a medical expert who would testify about the alleged victim's likely age on the notorious sex tape. But at 4:45 p.m., Boliker announced that the state had called its last witness.

Kelly's attorneys are due to begin presenting their case Wednesday morning. The jury will have tomorrow off.

Sun-Times reporter Jim DeRogatis must appear in court tomorrow, Judge Gaughan said. Gaughan ruled Friday that DeRogatis must testify for the defense.

R. Kelly's accountant paid Lisa Van Allen and a Kansas man $20,000 each to return a videotape of Kelly participating in a threesome with Van Allen and the alleged victim in this case, Van Allen testified this afternoon.

Van Allen said the $40,000 pay-off, exclusively revealed by the Sun-Times, was made to her in March 2007. Kelly personally offered her $250,000, but only $40,000 was handed over, she said. Van Allen said she invested the pay-off in her business. Kelly's business manager Derrel McDavid, handed over the cash, she said.

The day after the Sun-Times revealed the pay-off, Kelly's attorney Sam Adam Jr. visited Van Allen and her boyfriend, Yul Brown, in Atlanta to interview her, defense attorney Sam Adam Sr. said. Under questioning from Adam Sr., Van Allen repeatedly denied that Brown had tried to extort cash from Adam Jr. at that meeting.

She also denied that Brown had boasted that he and Van Allen had been offered a $300,000 book deal.

On cross-examination, R. Kelly's attorney Sam Adam Sr. is attempting to paint Lisa Van Allen as a liar and a thief.

Adam got Van Allen to admit that she had relationships with two men convicted for fraud in the federal courts. One - Damon Pryor - is the so-called "mystery witness" who flew into town at the last minute last week. He's the father of Van Allen's child. The other man - Yul Brown - is Van Allen's current partner.

Under questioning from Adam, Van Allen said that she knew Pryor had served time for fraud before they met in 2001. She also knew Brown was a fraudster, she said.

She laughed when Adam asked her if she only dated men with federal fraud convictions.

While they were together, Pryor told her "how you interject yourself into a case - that you go at the last minute" with important testimony, she said. Van Allen agreed with Adam that Pryor was a "conman," describing their relationship as "a mistake."

Adam pointed out that Van Allen had not come forward for nearly five-and-a-half years as a witness against Kelly, suggesting a link between Pryor's advice and her late emergence as a witness.

But Van Allen denied telling Pryor that the tape at the center of the case was a fake, or that she had told him she planned to extort cash from Kelly. She denied telling a Minnesota woman the same thing, also denying that she knew two men called "Chuck and Keith" had staged the tape at the center of the case to get money from Kelly.

The Minnesota woman, Lena Prado, has not been mentioned in court before, but Van Allen said she had known her since 1999. Van Allen denied having a sexual relationship with Prado.

Van Allen did admit to stealing Kelly's $20,000 Rolex from his hotel room. Asked why she had never admitted stealing the watch until today, she said, "That's not what (R. Kelly's) on trial for."

She acknowledged that her current partner, Brown, had been sentenced to probation for a weapons conviction just two weeks after she eventually approached prosecutors, offering to testify against Kelly. But she denied that prosecutors had told her they "needed" her to take the stand. Brown had faced up to 22 years for possessing an AK-47 machine gun, Adam said.

Lisa Van Allen's testimony lived up to its explosive billing this lunchtime. She's still being questioned, but she's already dropped several bombshells, saying she had three-way sex with Kelly and the alleged victim in this case at least three times.

Van Allen said she had met R. Kelly at the video shoot for "Home Alone," in which she appeared, in late 1997 or early 1998. Kelly's cousin, "Blacky" invited her to join Kelly in Kelly's trailer, she said. She talked with Kelly and ended up having "intercourse" with him in the trailer, she said. She was 17 at the time, she said.

The pair exchanged numbers and Van Allen soon visited Kelly in Chicago, eventually giving up her job in Atlanta to be with him full time. Kelly paid for her to stay in hotels and she spent most of her time with him at the studio, she said.

Van Allen said she went on tour with Kelly and was picked out of the crowd at the end of each show to perform simulated sex with him on stage at each show's finale.

In late 1998, she testified, Kelly took her to his former home on the North Side of Chicago, where she met the alleged victim in this case for the first time. Kelly taped them while they had three-way sex in his "log-cabin" room, she said. That's the same room he's alleged to have filmed the tape in this case. Kelly told her the alleged victim was 16, she said.

On another occasion, following an awards ceremony in Chicago at which Kelly had been honored, Van Allen, Kelly and the alleged victim in this case again had videotaped three-way sex. But this time they did it on Kelly's basketball court.

"He took up his camera and we took off our clothes and we all had sex again," she said. Van Allen said Kelly stopped the sex session after she broke down crying. "I didn't want to do it," she said.

On a third occasion, sometime in 2000, Kelly, Van Allen and the alleged victim romped again, this time in his trailer at the video shoot for "Woman's Threat," Van Allen said. Kelly and the alleged victim ran naked to hide after somebody knocked on the door and disturbed them, she said.

Van Allen said Kelly carried a "duffel bag" containing his home-made porn wherever he went.

"He carried it everywhere," she said. "If we was at the studio, it was in the studio with him; if he was at Hoops (his gym) it would be at Hoops with him...the bag would follow him."

Van Allen confessed she had stolen R. Kelly's Rolex watch from a Georgia hotel in 2001. She said she had been granted state and federal immunity from prosecution for child porn in return for her testimony.

Asked why she had come forward to testify, she said, "It's the right thing to do."

She said she was not there when the tape at the center of this case was made, but identified the alleged victim and Kelly as being on that tape.

Damon Pryor can testify, judge rules.

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One last delay this morning before Lisa Van Allen can take the stand. Prosecutor Shauna Boliker attempted to have Judge Gaughan ban Van Allen's ex-boyfriend Damon Pryor from testifying for the defense.

Pryor will allege that Van Allen stole R. Kelly's watch from a hotel room, Boliker said. Perhaps more importantly, Pryor will testify that Van Allen told him it isn't Kelly on the notorious sex tape at the center of the case, Boliker said. Pryor will also testify Van Allen told him that two men,"Chuck and Keith," made the tape, she added.

Urging Gaughan to exclude Pryor, Boliker said that anything he would testify to would be "rank hearsay," adding that Pryor had previously inserted himself at the last minute into a high-profile case in Georgia.

But Judge Gaughan ruled in Kelly's favor.

Pryor can testify, he said, because his testimony could impeach Van Allen. Whether Pryor is credible is "for the jury to decide," he added.

Lisa Van Allen takes the stand

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The long-delayed testimony we've all been waiting for has finally arrived.

Lisa Van Allen—the prosecution witness expected to testify that she took part in three-way sex with R. Kelly and his alleged victim—has taken the stand. Her evidence could be crucial, since no other prosecution witness is expected to testify that they actually saw Kelly and the girl have sex first-hand.

She's also expected to testify that Kelly's aides attempted to pay her off to keep her from testifying.

The Sun-Times exclusively revealed Van Allen's likely testimony three weeks ago. But the defense has battled in secret hearings to prevent her from testifying for nearly two months. Originally slated to testify Tuesday last week, she has three times been asked to wait a day after last-minute legal arguments between Kelly's attorneys and the state.

More members of the public have shown up today than on any previous day of the trial. They're expecting fireworks.

There was one final delay this morning when the prosecution filed a motion to exclude the evidence of Damon Pryor, Van Allen's ex-boyfriend.

Also this morning, before the jury took their seats, Judge Gaughan cautioned Van Allen that she might incriminate herself on the stand. Gaughan noted that Van Allen has her own attorney to advise her.

But now, before the packed courtroom, Van Allen – wearing a black dress - has begun her testimony.

Stay tuned.

Lisa is in the Building

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Lisa Van Allen -- who allegedly will testify she was in a threesome with R. Kelly and an underage girl -- arrived at the Cook County Criminal Courthouse this morning at 8:50 a.m. It is considered likely she will testify today.

Van Allen was accompanied by Yul Brown, 38, who says he is her fiance. The couple held hands as they strolled southbound down California Ave., accompanied by a sheriff's deputy. Then they walked up the front steps of the courthouse.

Van Allen, who might testify today after her testimony was put off twice, is wearing a black dress. Her fiance Brown is wearing a green suit.

R. Kelly on trial

The story of the allegations against R. Kelly started here in the Sun-Times. Almost six years later, it's now finally reached a trial.

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