While the notorious sex tape in the R. Kelly trial was evidence enough to link the singer to 14 counts of child pornography, it was the testimony of a former associate that exposed the extent of Kelly’s misdeeds, prosecutors said during closing arguments June 12th.
Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Shauna Boliker recalled the testimony of Stephanie "Sparkle" Edwards, the aunt of the alleged victim at the center of the case, who claimed she’d introduced Kelly to the girl when she was just 12 years old, according to the Chicago Tribune.
"You can imagine the feelings of betrayal that [Edwards] felt toward the defendant," Boliker said. "You could feel her outrage, couldn’t you, during the course of her testimony. You could feel her disappointment."
Boliker asserted that, as the godfather of the alleged victim, Kelly was able to command the girl to perform in not just the infamous tape but in other tapes as evidenced by the testimony of Lisa Van Allen.
Prosecutors also stressed that the "log cabin" room depicted in the tape was the same room in Kelly’s home.
Kelly’s defense team was set to give closing arguments at press time.
Days earlier, the disclosure of an oversight regarding the tape fueled a bit of courtroom controversy.
Boliker admitted to Judge Vincent Gaughan that the prosecution learned that a DVD copy of the tape used during testimony was of lesser quality, the Tribune reported.
In reviewing both copies, prosecutors reportedly discovered that the images on the videotape were compressed and lost detail after being transferred to DVD.
The controversy came in the fact that the DVD version of the tape had been very much at the center of the defense’s case.
Kelly’s lawyers called 12 witnesses over two days including relatives of the alleged victim who claimed she was not the girl in the tape, but the strongest defense may have come from a forensics expert who alleged, as supported by the DVD, that Kelly was not a participant because the male pictured on the video lacked a distinctive mole on his back.
When prosecutors called in another forensics expert during rebuttal who provided multiple images of a mole on the male participant’s back taken from the videotape itself, Kelly’s lawyers balked.
Apparently, both sides had stipulated in court a week earlier that the DVD copy was true to the original tape.
"The stipulation is wrong," Defense attorney Ed Genson said, according to the Tribune. "We put a man on based on that, and they put [another expert] up there to rebut him and that’s not right."
Gaughan called the oversight "the rotten tomato in the barrel," before reviewing transcripts and deciding that it was clear that both teams were given equal access to the VHS cassette and DVD copies of the sex tape, and would have to resolve the issue.
While jurors heard from a total of 34 witnesses over the course of the trial, the most glaring absences were those of Kelly and the alleged victim, who both declined to testify.
Chicago attorney Richard Kling told the paper that the absence of the alleged victim could leave doubts in the minds of the jurors,
"It can cut both ways," Kling said. "They could be wondering why she wouldn’t testify for the prosecution if she truly was a victim. The danger for Mr. Kelly is that they know he’s famous and has money. They might wonder if he paid her off."
Kelly has pleaded not guilty. He faces up to 15 years in prison.