A recent employee of R. Kelly testified Tuesday that she didn’t want to believe the R&B superstar appeared on a sex tape at the center of his child pornography trial because he was such a good boss. But now she’s sure he did.
Lindsey Perryman, who worked as a personal assistant to Kelly and his family on and off from around 2000 to 2007, was among the latest witnesses to identify Kelly and the alleged victim as the ones on the graphic 27-minute videotape.
“I didn’t want to think it was them,” a sometimes anxious-looking Perryman said, the 41-year-old Kelly sitting at the defense table just yards away.
Perryman said she never saw anything that might make her think the Grammy-winning singer might be involved in anything untoward, even after he was indicted in 2002.
“He treated the people that worked with him extremely well,” Perryman said. “There was never any reason to walk away and say I would call the police.”
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.
‘110 percent’ certain
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, has also 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.
Witnesses ID alleged victim
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, took the stand for the prosecution wearing a black T-shirt with the words “The Rebel Dread” on the front. The 25-year-old seemed hesitant, telling jurors only that the man and female on the video “favored” Kelly and the alleged victim, but that he couldn’t be sure it was either.
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.
Earlier in the day, Kelly lawyers 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 childhood friend. Gengler, 22, said she first saw the video after downloading it several years ago from an internet file-sharing site, after the tape had become the talk of her neighborhood.
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.