June 13, 2008— -- R. Kelly was acquitted of all charges Friday after less than a day of deliberations in his child pornography trial, ending a six-year ordeal for the R&B superstar.
Kelly dabbed his face with a handkerchief and hugged each of his four attorneys after the verdict -- not guilty on all 14 counts -- was read. The Grammy award-winning singer had faced 15 years in prison if convicted.
Minutes later, surrounded by bodyguards, he left the courthouse without comment. Dozens of fans screamed and cheered as he climbed into a waiting SUV.
Prosecutors had argued that a video tape mailed to the Chicago Sun-Times in 2002 showed Kelly engaged in graphic sex acts with a girl as young as 13 at the time. Both Kelly, 41, and the now 23-year-old alleged victim had denied they were the ones on the tape. Neither testified during the trial.
The prosecution's star witness was a woman who said she engaged in three-way sex with Kelly and the alleged victim. Defense attorneys argued the man on the tape didn't have a large mole on his back; Kelly has such a mole.
The monthlong trial centered on whether Kelly was the man who appears on a sexually graphic, 27-minute videotape at the heart of the case, and whether a female who also appears on it was underage.
Over seven days presenting their case, prosecutors called 22 witnesses, including several childhood friends of the alleged victim and four of her relatives who identified her as the female on the video.
In just two days, Kelly's lawyers called 12 witnesses. They included three relatives of the alleged victim who testified they did not recognize her as the female on the tape.
Kelly won a Grammy in 1997 for "I Believe I Can Fly," and is known for such raunchy hits as "Bump N' Grind," "Ignition," and for "Trapped in the Closet," a multipart saga about the sexual secrets of an ever-expanding cast of characters.
Of the 12 jurors, nine were men and three were women; eight were white and four were black. They included the wife of a Baptist preacher from Kelly's Chicago-area hometown, Olympia Fields, as well as a compliance officer for a Chicago investment firm and a man in his 60s who emigrated from then-Communist Romania nearly 40 years ago.