CHICAGO – A family friend of the alleged victim in the sex tape at the center of R. Kelly’s child pornography trial testified Tuesday that the young female in the videotape could have been about 12 or 13 years old at the time.
Tjada Burnett said she recognized the alleged victim by her “cheeks, her nose, her facial structure.”
A childhood friend of the alleged victim also identified the young female as the person who prosecutors say was on the 27-minute tape, which they claim was made between Jan. 1, 1998, and Nov. 1, 2000. The say the young female in the tape was born in September 1984.
Kelly, 41, is charged with 14 counts of child pornography for allegedly videotaping himself having sex with an underage girl. He has pleaded not guilty and faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
Kelly’s attorneys have said he is not on the man on the tape, even noting that the singer has a mole on his back and that the man in the tape does not.
Also, the alleged victim, now 23, has denied she is in the tape.
Under cross-examination, a defense attorney asked Burnett whether the alleged victim had braces at the time, and kept pressing the question without explaining why.
Kelly lawyers also accused Raven Gengler of lying to help the prosecution’s case when she testified that she’s certain the girl on the videotape was her friend. Gengler, 22, said she first saw the video after downloading it several years ago from an internet file-sharing site in 2001, after the tape had become the talk of her neighborhood.
“You know the difference between a truth and a lie. And you lied before, didn’t you?” defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. said.
“I’d never lie,” Gengler replied, pulling nervously on her long hair.
The trial is in its second week of testimony. Within hours of their opening statements last week, prosecutors entered the VHS tape into the record as “People’s Exhibit No. 1” and played it in court.
Last week, several witnesses, including a relative of the alleged victim, testified that they recognized her in the videotape.
Although Kelly won a Grammy in 1997 for the gospellike song “I Believe I Can Fly,” his biggest hits are bawdy ballads like “Ignition” and his current single, “Hair Braider.” He is scheduled to release a new album in July.
By Elaine Donnelly
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