R. Kelly puts his request to work abroad on hold
CHICAGO — R. Kelly on Friday put the brakes on his request for a judge’s permission to travel abroad while he awaits trial on felony sex abuse charges — but only so that he can amend the request with fuller information, his attorneys said.
Dressed in a dark suit, Kelly made a brief appearance at a status hearing Friday morning in a Chicago courtroom while his attorney Steve Greenberg asked a judge to delay their request to modify Kelly’s bond so that the singer can work overseas.
Judge Lawrence Flood agreed to continue the request. It’s not clear when that issue will next be addressed, but a hearing in the overall case is next scheduled for May 7.
Kelly’s legal team had filed a motion Wednesday, asking the court to grant him permission to travel next month to Dubai to perform shows — arguing that Kelly needs to work to pay child support and other bills. The singer had surrendered his passport under terms of the bail he was granted in February.
But Greenberg told reporters Friday after the hearing that he wanted to amend the request with additional information. He didn’t specify what he’d add.
“I think there were some more details to be filled in to give the judge a certain comfort level” that might make him more likely to rule in Kelly’s favor, Greenberg said.
Wednesday’s court filing had stressed Kelly’s need to generate income, as he “has struggled of late to pay his child support and other child related expenses,” and has fallen “behind on his studio rent.”
It also says Kelly has recently had difficulty working in the United States, citing two performances or appearances that organizers have canceled in the past year.
But on Friday, Kelly’s entertainment attorney Doug Anton said offers recently have come in for Kelly to perform “just about everywhere you could imagine.”
Greenberg said it wasn’t clear yet whether they could amend their request in time for Kelly’s scheduled performances in April in Dubai.
“He may still go to Dubai. He may not go to Dubai. We’ll see,” Greenberg said.
What the charges allege
Kelly, 52, faces 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four alleged victims, including three who prosecutors say were underage girls. The Class 2 felony charges cover allegations from 1998 to 2010.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and has consistently denied allegations of abusing women or being sexually involved with underage girls.
The charges, filed last month, come after more than two decades of Kelly being associated with accusations of abuse, manipulation and inappropriate encounters with girls and young women. He has strongly denied the accusations and has not been convicted in any criminal case connected to them.
In the latest case, two of the victims were 16 years old at the time of the alleged abuse, one was between 14 and 16, and the fourth was 24, according to Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s description of the evidence. The indictment says Kelly used force or the threat of force.
The charges were filed in February, after attorney Michael Avenatti announced he had given the state’s attorney’s office a videotape that he said showed Kelly having sex with an underage girl.
CNN has seen the VHS tape, which is 42 minutes and 45 seconds, clear and explicit. It appears to show Kelly having sex with a girl who refers to her body parts as 14 years old.
In a February 23 hearing, prosecutors revealed graphic details, including accusations that Kelly spit on two victims. And one of the alleged victims provided authorities with a shirt she wore during an alleged encounter with Kelly, which later tested positive for his DNA, prosecutors said.
Kelly was jailed February 22 in the current case before being released on bail three days later.
Greenberg has said he has not seen the tape and has demanded that prosecutors share it. He also has said he believes the accusers are lying and Kelly would be vindicated.
On Friday, the judge said that before the state turns over the tape, a court order would have to be put in place to ensure the video — because it’s alleged to show underage sex — is protected. The judge did not address when or how that would happen.
Kelly’s attorney claims double jeopardy
What is on the video mirrors some of the alleged acts for which Kelly was arrested in a child pornography case in 2002, when he was 35.
In that 2002 case, there also was a video in which prosecutors said he appeared to be having sex with a girl.
Greenberg has said one of the current charges “appears to involve the same alleged victim from the earlier case, and double jeopardy should bar that case.”
But the charges in the earlier case were child pornography charges — different from the aggravated sexual abuse charges Kelly currently faces.
Kelly has been sued by multiple women accusing him of having sex with them when they were underage. Most cases, with the exception of the trial at which he was acquitted, have been settled out of court.
There has been a growing movement against him, including the #MuteRKelly campaign to stop his music from being played. His hits include “I Believe I Can Fly” and “Ignition.”
In January, the release of the docuseries, “Surviving R. Kelly,” on Lifetime television helped boost the public campaign against him.
In that series, women said they were kept in abusive sexual relationships.
Kelly this month in a nearly 80-minute interview told CBS News’ Gayle King he denied holding women against their will or having sex with anyone younger than 17.
“I have been assassinated,” Kelly said, asserting he was a victim of lies. “I have been buried alive, but I’m alive.”
Kelly also was jailed March 6 in a separate case involving what authorities said was failure to pay his ex-wife child support of $160,000. He was also released in that case after posting bail.