Ex-Kelly employee testifies

May 27, 2008 5:27:16 PM PDT
A former employee of R. Kelly testified Tuesday that she was "110 percent sure" the Grammy-winning R&B singer appeared with an underage girl on a sex tape at the center of his child pornography trial.

Lindsey Perryman, who said she worked as a record producer and personal assistant to the singer and his family off and on from 2000-2007, told jurors that she first saw the tape in December 2007, after being approached by prosecutors.

At that time, she said, she was not sure it was Kelly on the video and didn't want to believe it because he was a great boss and "very, very good to me."

"I was in shock and I wanted to be 110 percent sure," so looked at an album cover with Kelly on it before viewing the videotape a second time, Perryman said. She said she then was sure it was Kelly; she also identified the alleged victim, who had visited Kelly's studio.

Kelly, 41, 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, has denied she is on the tape.

Two other witnesses on Tuesday testified that the female participant on the graphic 27-minute videotape was the same person prosecutors say was as young as 13 at the time. 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.

Tjada Burnett, a family friend of the alleged victim, said she recognized the female participant 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.

Under cross-examination, a defense attorney asked Burnett whether the alleged victim wore braces and showed the jury a photo in which she appeared to be wearing braces.

Burnett testified that the alleged victim had braces sometime between 1997 and 1999, and acknowledged she would have had the braces after the tape was made.

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 in 2001, after the tape had become the talk of her neighborhood.

"You know the difference between a truth and a lie. And you lied before, didn't you?" defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. said.

"I'd never lie," Gengler replied, pulling nervously on her long hair.

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 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.

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