R. Kelly trial finally under way

The Chicago media is calling it the “R. Kelly Porn Trial.” After successfully delaying proceedings for six years, Kelly’s attorneys made last-ditch efforts to further delay the inevitable. The defense claimed that potential jurors would be influenced by pre-trial media coverage, specifically mentioning recent articles in the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Sun-Times reported Friday that a potential witness in the R. Kelly trial — who would testify to having a threesome with Kelly and an underage girl — was allegedly paid by an aide to the singer in order to get back an incriminating sex video.

“There is no escaping the fact that the Sun-Times will be in every news box in Cook County,” said defense lawyer Marc Martin.

That’s very flattering for the Sun-Times, but it’s hardly true. While circulation of the Sun-Times is respectable, there are no doubt people in Cook County who do not regularly read the paper or follow its stories online. I would bet that there are plenty of people in Cook County who have never heard of R. Kelly, never heard one of his songs or don’t know that they have, and could care less who he is.

It is astounding that this case has stalled in the courts this long, and the court is making every effort to ensure the press is locked out of the initial proceedings:

Exactly how the opening moment of a trial six years in the making played out is unclear, however, because sheriff’s deputies barred reporters from entering the courtroom. In a case kept shrouded in secrecy by Cook County Circuit Judge Vincent Gaughan, the opening moments of the trial were also behind closed doors.

Kelly, 41, faces 14 counts of child pornography for a videotape authorities say was shot between Jan. 1, 1998, and Oct. 1, 2000, and shows him engaging in a variety of sex acts with a girl as young as 13. He has pleaded not guilty.

Six years.

I have no doubt R. Kelly will get a fair trial. If anything, the six-year crawl to justice simply bolsters arguments that the Olympia Fields resident has been treated with more fairness than most others who are accused of crossing the law.