A childhood friend of the alleged victim in the R. Kelly child pornography case testified Wednesday that she recognizes her longtime friend as the one in the explicit video at
the center of the trial.
The R&B superstar is accused of videotaping himself having sex with a girl as young as 13. His attorneys have said Kelly’s not on the tape and the alleged victim, who is now 23, also denies she’s the person in the video.
Prosecutors showed the footage within hours of opening statements Tuesday and now they’re working to prove their claim that Kelly and the alleged victim are indeed in the video.
On Wednesday, Simha Jamison, 24, said she and the alleged victim were best friends for about 10 years until their junior year in high school — and that she knows her friend’s face quite well.
She testified she and her friend visited Kelly at his recording studio and at a Chicago basketball court dozens of times starting when they were around the age of 12.
Her friend first introduced her to Kelly as “her godfather,” Jamison said, adding that the singer frequently gave her friend cash gifts — “no less than $100 and no more than $500.”
She said the two also visited the home where authorities say the sex tape was filmed. Jamison said she saw the tape in 2002 and again just before testifying.
Jamison remained insistent under tough cross-examination later in the day from defense attorney Sam Adam Jr.
Adam said the reason the alleged victim never told the witness she was having a sexual relationship with Kelly was because there wasn’t one and “because it’s not her on the tape.”
“Are you asking or telling me?” Jamison shot back.
During the cross-examination, the defense also revealed their strategy may be to suggest Kelly’s image was computer-generated.
“Something could have been done to put a different head on that body,” Adam said. He also referred to movies where characters had been digitally altered.
The 41-year-old Kelly, who has pleaded not guilty, faces up to 15 years if convicted.
The prosecution’s first few witnesses were geared toward identifying the alleged victim on the tape that prosecutors say was made between Jan. 1, 1998, and Nov. 1, 2000.
Jamison’s father, Peter Thomas, testified that the alleged victim’s involvement in the video was the talk of their neighborhood. When his daughter heard about it in 2002, he said she would cry herself to sleep but wouldn’t discuss it.
He watched the video for the first time before testifying Wednesday and identified the girl, guessing that she must have been about 14 or 15 in the video.
Earlier Wednesday, John Kelly, a retired investigator with the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, testified that a room in a Chicago home once owned by the singer strongly resembles the
distinctive room in the video.
Kelly said he visited the sprawling red brick home on Chicago’s North Side in 2002 and saw what he described as a “hot tub room” with the same log-cabin theme as the room in the video.
During cross examination, the defense countered that Kelly moved out of the home at least several weeks before the investigator arrived.
R. Kelly won a Grammy in 1997 for the gospel-tinged “I Believe I Can Fly,” and also is known for such songs as “Bump N’ Grind,” “Ignition,” and “Trapped in the Closet,” a multipart saga about the sexual secrets of a lively and ever-expanding cast of characters.