A former personal assistant to R. Kelly became the latest person to take the stand and say she believes the R&B superstar appeared in a sex tape at the center of his child pornography trial.
Lindsey Perryman, who worked for Kelly and his family on and off from around 2000 to 2007, identified Kelly and the alleged victim in the graphic 27-minute videotape.
“I didn’t want to think it was them,” a sometimes anxious-looking Perryman said Tuesday, with the 41-year-old Kelly sitting at the defense table just yards away.
Kelly 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 tape, even noting that the singer has a mole on his back and the man on the tape does not. The alleged victim, now 23, also has denied she is on the tape — putting the onus on prosecutors to call witnesses who can testify it is her.
Perryman told jurors she saw the tape for the first time in December 2007, after prosecutors approached her. That first time she wasn’t sure it was Kelly and the alleged victim, but she became “110 percent” certain after viewing it again, she said.
“The image I saw looked exactly like Mr. Kelly,” she said, adding she was “shocked” and “disturbed” by the video.
Perryman said she saw the alleged victim numerous times, including when she would come to Kelly’s Chicago music studio. She recognized the girl as the one in the video by her cheekbones, as well as by the “distinctive” way she moved her mouth, smiled and talked, she told jurors.
Prosecutors claim the tape was made between Jan. 1, 1998, and Nov. 1, 2000, and that the young female in the tape was born in September 1984.
Several other prosecution witnesses also testified Tuesday that the female participant on the videotape was the same person prosecutors say was as young as 13 at the time.
Some sounded more convinced than others.
Benny Edwards Jr., who once sang in a youth group with his relative, the alleged victim, said he couldn’t be sure if either figure was Kelly or the alleged victim.
Tjada Burnett, a family friend of the alleged victim, was more certain, saying she recognized the female by her “cheeks, her nose, her facial structure,” and said she could have been about 12 or 13 years old at the time the tape was made.
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 open court. Also 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 raunchy ballads like “Ignition” and his current single, “Hair Braider.” He is scheduled to release a new album in July.