Saturday, May 24, 2008

Day 3 of the R. Kelly trial: Sparkle's revenge:

Kelly's lawyers tried, exhaustively but futilely, to prevent the jury from seeing the video. This is understandable—when you're defending an accused child pornographer, it's best not to have the jury hear a man who looks just like your client refer to himself, on tape, as "daddy" as he begins to have intercourse with the alleged victim. (The girl's answer when he asks her to initiate sex: "Yes, Daddy.") There's also the matter of his prolonged urination on the girl's face and breasts, which stops and starts, and stops and starts, for what seems like minutes on end. It's excruciating to watch.

Before the tape started rolling, I thought that a few people might have to leave the courtroom. The vibe in the room, though, is more uncomfortable than appalled, like we've all been dragooned into watching Porky's Revenge at grandma's house. Aside from one guy who occasionally breaks into a nervous smile, the jury is stone-faced and intent on the big screen. The two obvious Kelly fans in the room—a pair of young girls who've scored visitors' passes—watch with their hands in their pockets and slightly downturned mouths. Kelly, wearing a dark pinstripe suit and a blue tie with diagonal orange stripes, his hair immaculately braided, tilts his head every so often, putting his chin on his hand to peer at the video from a different angle.

If the defense is to be believed, Kelly is looking at someone other than himself. In the defense's opening statement, Sam Adam Jr. proclaims, "Robert Kelly is not on that tape." I predict that in the decades to come, law schools will teach this as the "Shaggy defense." You allege that I was caught on camera, butt naked, banging on the log cabin floor? It wasn't me.

1:17 PM