Monday, May 12, 2008

Conviction for pop star Kelly? . . . Not likely

by Tina Dirmann

Ladies and gentlemen, I'd say get ready to see the latest celebrity charged with a crime walk away a free man. We've seen it happen so many times now, it's becoming a sadly predictable cycle. O. J. Robert Blake. Phil Spector. As far as I'm concerned, each one of those men should be serving out the rest of their days in prison for taking the lives of women who trusted them. But they aren't. Because they are celebrities.

I'm convinced of that fact, having been an entertainment reporter for many years now, and watching, close-up, what the power of celebrity can do. It brings money. It brings access. It brings adoration. And it brings a "get out of jail free" card.

Now our eyes turn to R. Kelly (pictured above), the wildly popular, Grammy-winning 41-year-old R&B star accused of videotaping himself while having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

Yesterday, attorneys in the Chicago case began screening 150 potential jurors. At the start, even Cook County Circuit Judge Vincent Gaughan warned them, "As you know, this is a high-profile case. And if you don't know, God love you. You're probably the only person on earth that doesn't."

Mark my words, there's not a chance he's going to go to jail for this one. But this time, even I have to admit, it's not because his high-dollar defense attorney (well-known Chicago attorney Ed Genson) will skillfully pack the jury with Kelly fans. No, this time, the hurdle actually might be a lack of solid evidence to convict him on the 14-count indictment.

First of all, the victim in this case, now 23, denies she's the one in the videotape. And by many accounts, those with access to the tape say it's just not clear if it is -- or not. In fact, prosecutors aren't even sure of the tape's date. They say is was made between 1998 and 2000, which could make the victim closer to 15 than 13. Still a crime, obviously. But to not have a clear victim, or a clear age, a clear date . . . This is going to be a tough one.

Then add to that, R. Kelly's celebrity, and the fact that those who know him will remember that his 1997 Grammy was for a gospel-like song, "I Believe I Can Fly," and I doubt there's much hope a conviction will happen. And if so, R. Kelly better thank his lucky stars. Because there's still a very young woman on that tape, whoever she is, having sex with an adult man. So, maybe the prosecutors won't be able to prove his guilt. But in my mind, that doesn't make him innocent, either.


Rae said...

"At the start, even Cook County Circuit Judge Vincent Gaughan warned them, "As you know, this is a high-profile case. And if you don't know, God love you. You're probably the only person on earth that doesn't."

You know, that comment just galvanizes me. It's right up there with Marcia Clark's "I don't want to prosecute this (celebrity) man..."

That it is a high profile case isn't supposed to make a difference to the jury, and for the judge to emphasize that to them is just wrong. The jury is supposed to consider the evidence, not the notoriety of the defendant. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Leah said...

I wouldn't have even known who he was unless someone told me. Looks like the Judge is anxious to get his 15 minutes.

I am surprised they are prosecuting this case with such little evidence.

Tina D said...

As much as I agree that it seems odd for the judge to highlight what a high profile case this is, I'm wondering if he did so because the jurors will have to know the lengths to which they'll have to go to to avoid news bits about the trial. It's already been all over CNN and the like. The AP and Chicago Tribune will cover extensively. And depending on what the judge rules, there could be cameras in the court room (though I suspect it would only be for opening and closing statements, given the sensitive nature of the case). As I said, this won't be an easy on to prosecute.

Tina D said...
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djdishman said...

Incredible, First of all...Ms. Dirmann has obviously done her homework here. I have read both books she has released and am yet to be unimpressed by her ferocity w/ her work. She has never sided w/ a celebrity because of their "star power"...she tells it like it is, always. I agree w/ everything she has said about R. Kelly...but, I am still bumping his music in my ride. Does that make me a bad guy? Cause, I still blast "Billie Jean" too...
Excellent work as always Ms. Dirmann.