R Kelly found not guilty of child pornography
R& B star R Kelly was acquitted Friday in Illinois on charges of child pornography, ending more than six years of legal wrangling, the Chicago Tribune reported online, the dpa reported.
After seven and a half hours of deliberation, the 12-member jury in Cook County, Illinois, found the evidence was not convincing and found him not guilty on all 14 counts.
The 41-year-old Grammy Award winner (I Believe I Can Fly) faced up to 15 years in jail on charges that he had videotaped, produced or solicited child pornography with the alleged victim, now 23, who has been identified as his god-daughter.
After each verdict of not guilty was read, Kelly said "Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus," the Tribune reported, citing Kelly's lawyer.
Last month, prosecutors showed the jury a 26-minute tape with images of a young girl being ordered to perform sex acts with a man whose face is obscured. Both Kelly and his alleged victim denied they were the people shown on the tape.
The prosecution said the recording was made between January 1998 and November 2000 when the girl was 13 or 14. When charges were filed in 2002, the tape was in wide circulation on the Internet, after being obtained from an anonymous source by the Chicago Sun Times and turned over to police.
In 2004, a separate set of charges in Florida involving 12 child pornography charges was dropped after a judge ruled that photographs found in his home were seized illegally. Investigators were searching for drugs when they came upon the digital camera with the photos stored in it.
After his acquittal in Chicago, Kelly's attorney Sam Adam Jr said he had been found not guilty "because they had the best jury that Cook County could produce," the Tribune reported.
"Two things happened today. R. Kelly got his name back and [his goddaughter] never had to lose hers," Adam was quoted as saying.
The six-year legal battle has not interfered with Kelly's popularity, and he has completed five albums and a greatest-hits collection since his indictment.