R. Kelly Accused Of Bribery, Judge Denies Delay Request

As jury selections for the R. Kelly sex trial began today, new claims surfaced that an aide to Kelly allegedly paid off a woman to get her to return an incriminating sex videotape featuring the Grammy Award winning singer. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, last month Judge Vincent Gaughan held four closed-door hearings and was told that the Atlanta woman, who is expected to testify that she had a three-way sexual encounter with Kelly and the suspected underage girl at the center of his child porn trial, was allegedly paid by Kelly's aide to recover a sex tape featuring Kelly. It is unclear how much the aide allegedly paid the woman, but the woman did receive payment and arranged for the tape to be delivered to the aide.

The Atlanta woman was granted immunity from state and federal prosecution in exchange for her testimony. Federal immunity was provided to protect the woman from charges of transporting child pornography across state lines. Sources revealed the woman had been in love with Kelly.

During the April hearings, Judge Gaughan was told at one point the aide arranged for the woman to take a polygraph test to determine if she was telling the truth about the tape. It is not clear whether the embattled singer had any knowledge of the alleged deal.

Prosecutors became aware of the woman's dealings with Kelly's aide and decided to make her a witness in the case involving the initial sex tape. The Atlanta woman's testimony could prove damaging to the defense's case as she can identify the girl and testify if she was underage at the time. The girl, now in her 20s, has denied before a grand jury that she was involved in alleged act. She might become a defense witness at the trial.

The 41-year-old singer was indicted on child pornography charges in June 2002 for allegedly having sex with an underage girl and videotaping the act. Prosecutors have said the girl may have been as young as 13 when the tape was made. R. Kelly has pleaded not guilty and faces up to 15-years in prison if convicted.