A woman has testified that she took part in a three-way sex involving US singing sensation R.Kelly and an underage girl at least on three occasions - including double teaming the teen on a basketball court - over the course of two years.
In her explosive testimony before a packed Chicago courtroom Monday, Lisa Van Allen detailed how she, Kelly and the 13-year-old girl engaged in threesomes.
On one occasion in 1999 - following an awards ceremony at which Kelly had been honored - the Grammy Award-winner videotaped himself, Van Allen and the teen having sex on a black futon set up on his private basketball court, she said.
"He took up his camera and we took off our clothes and we all had sex again," said Van Allen.
Kelly stopped filming after Van Allen, now 27, broke down in tears, she recalled.
"I didn't want to do it," she said. "[Kelly] stopped everything and we left."
She also said Kelly carried a duffel bag with his homemade porn wherever he went.
"If we was at the [music] studio, it was in the studio with him. If he was at [the gym], it would be at [the gym] with him," she said.
Van Allen, who is currently engaged and the mother of a 5-year-old girl, said she met Kelly in 1997 when she was just 17.
Kelly is charged with 14 counts of child pornography for allegedly videotaping himself having sex with the teen.
Last month the prosecution told the court that R Kelly produced and starred in a "vile, disturbing and disgusting" sex video with an under-aged girl.
"You will see the sex acts he commands her to do," Shauna Boliker of the Cook County state's attorney's office told the jury. "Vile, disturbing and disgusting sex acts, actions that were choreographed, produced and starred in by Robert Kelly."
"The case will unfold before you frame by disgusting frame," she added, with the girl "doing what she's told. There's no feeling in her face. It is clear she is an under-aged girl" whom Kelly met when she was 12.
R. Kelly denies that he is the man in the video and has pleaded not guilty. "R. Kelly is looking forward to his day in court and he is confident that when all the evidence comes out, he will be shown not to have committed any crime," Melissa Erickson, his spokes-woman, said.
Even the woman the prosecution has identified as the allegedly underage girl insists that it is not her. Court papers suggest that the 23-year-old woman may actually testify on R. Kelly's behalf.
It is evidently to challenge her prosecutors have put up Van Allen before the court. There are four dozen witnesses in all, it is said.
The tape, which prosecutors say was made between January 1998 and November 2000 when the girl was 13 or 14, was played in the courtroom. The man's face is visible only a few times but he can be seen handing the girl money and heard giving her commands.
"Robert Kelly is not on that tape," said defense lawyer Sam Adam. "There isn't an original of this tape. The tape you're going to see here is at best a copy of a copy of a copy of the original."
Adam said the FBI reviewed the tape and could not identify Kelly as being on the tape.
The trial before Judge Vincent Gaughan of the Cook County Criminal Court got underway six years after Kelly was charged and may last up to seven weeks.
The accusations prompted some radio stations to stop playing Kelly's songs, but did not derail his career. He has earned millions of dollars from concert tours and album sales while being free on $750,000 bond.
Kelly shot to fame in the early 1990s with hits like Sex Me and Bump n' Grind. The carnality of his early lyrics gave way to wholesomeness with the 1996 single I Believe I Can Fly, which earned him three Grammy Awards. For more than a decade, R. Kelly has topped the charts as one of R&B's most successful artists — but he is also known for his repeated scrapes with the law.
"I think he has a good chance of beating it," said Leonard Cavise, a law professor at DePaul University, who is following the case. "He is not charged with sexual assault. All they have to prove is that he was in possession of pornography that had a child in it, which means all they have to prove is the person in it was a child. Normally, that would be extremely easy, except that in this case you have the alleged child and her mother and father who will take the stand and say, 'It's not me'. So this is an extremely tough case.
"The only thing they can do, on cross-examination, is prove she is lying. If they do not do that beyond reasonable doubt, he has to walk."
R. Kelly secretly married the singer Aaliyah, his protégé, in 1994 when she was 15. The marriage was later annulled by her parents before Aaliyah died in a 2001 air crash.
The R&B star has also settled three lawsuits accusing him of having sex with underage girls - including one who claimed that he forced her to have an abortion. R. Kelly's spokesman said that the singer reluctantly settled the civil lawsuits on the advice of his lawyer. He did not admit to the allegations.