Private eye and video expert testify for Kelly defense

CHICAGO A celebrity private investigator took the witness stand.

Jack Palladino's clients include Bill Clinton, Robin Williams and, for the past six years, R. Kelly. He talked about an attempted extortion attempt from one of the key witnesses.

Also on the stand was their own video expert, Charles Palm. It is all about the mole. Police photos show R. Kelly to have one on his lower back. His lawyers said he had the mole since childhood, but the defense team is trying to convince jurors that the man on the videotape did not have a mole.

Kelly is charged with child pornography stemming from a tape showing a man and a young female to have sex.

Palm showed jurors, frame by frame, and he testified that there is no mole on the tape. But the state's video analyst said you can see a mole on the man's back.

Several defense investigators told jurors at least one acquaintance who identified the alleged victim for the prosecution had told them earlier that she wasn't sure the alleged victim was on the recording.

The defense is trying to plant the seed of doubt, poking holes in the testimony of state witnesses, specifically their key witness, Lisa Van Allen. The 27-year-old Atlanta woman testified about having three-way sex with R. Kelly and the alleged victim.

The celebrity private eye took the stand to say he believed Van Allen was trying to extort R. Kelly when he went there to interview her. He told the jury that Van Allen told him about a $300,000 book deal they were offered and trying to do what was best for their family. Pallandino said he took that as an extortion attempt.

Palladino said he took the claim by Lisa Van Allen and her fiance, Yul Brown, as an attempt to extort money in exchange for their silence.

"I assume they were trying to solicit a bribe," Palladino said of a meeting with Allen and Brown in the Atlanta area earlier this year.

Kelly, 41, has pleaded not guilty to charges he made a videotape of himself having sex with an underage girl. Both Kelly and the alleged victim have denied being on the 27-minute tape.

Under cross examination, Palladino conceded that neither Van Allen nor Brown directly asked for a bribe, but he said their language "was a coded way to get money from my client (Kelly)."

Palladino added he was sure no book deal existed.

The prosecution said there was no evidence of blackmail. The prosecutor said, "I am trying to find out where the extortion is, other than somewhere between your ears."

Prosecutor Robert Heilingoetter countered that a book deal was a plausible claim and that Palladino had no grounds to conclude the couple were trying to extort money.

Pallandino testified the trip to Atlanta cost R. Kelly $15,000. They stayed at the Four Seasons in Atlanta on that trip.

Testimony ended Thursday. It will continue Monday morning. The defense will call more witnesses.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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