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When Are R. Kelly’s Federal Trials and What Is He Charged With?

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Singer R. Kelly is set to face trial in two separate federal cases this year, one in New York and the other in Chicago.

Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, has been in custody since his arrest in July, 2019 and his trials have already been delayed on more than one occasion.

When Kelly will actually appear in court next is something of an open question following delays due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, dates have been scheduled.

The current dates are provisional and are subject to change because of the pandemic. Find out more, below, about the upcoming trials and charges—which Kelly denies.

New York

The indictment filed in the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn charges Kelly with racketeering and alleges that the singer ran a criminal enterprise that recruited women and underage girls for “illegal sexual activity.”

Prosecutors also allege that Kelly “isolated the women and girls from their friends and family, and made them dependent on him for their financial well-being”, according to U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

“Kelly and individuals who served as his managers, bodyguards, drivers, personal assistants and runners, as well as members of his entourage, comprised a racketeering enterprise (the Enterprise) that operated for over two decades in New York, Illinois, Connecticut, California and elsewhere,” prosecutors said.

Kelly was previously scheduled to appear in court in New York on April 7, 2021—next week—on racketeering charges. That date has since been changed to August 9.

The federal judge who made the switch earlier this year, said at the time that any earlier trial date was unrealistic amid the ongoing pandemic. If convicted, Kelly faces up to 20 years in prison.

Chicago

Separately, the Chicago indictment charges Kelly with child pornography and obstruction of justice. It is alleged that Kelly conspired with two employees to rig his 2008 child pornography trial in Illinois’ Cook County by paying witnesses and victims to change their statements.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois, Kelly “is charged with one count of conspiracy to receive child pornography, two counts of receiving child pornography, four counts of producing child pornography, five counts of enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity, and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice.”

“The indictment also charges Kelly with conspiring to intimidate victims and conceal evidence in an effort to obstruct law enforcement, including an investigation in the 2000s that resulted in his trial in 2008 in Cook County on state child pornography charges,” they said.

The Chicago trial was previously set to begin on September 13, allowing a five month gap from the opening of the New York trial.

But the new New York date could create a clash. It is expected to last six weeks and if it does not begin on schedule it would likely delay the start of the Chicago trial.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber, who is presiding over the Chicago trial, said of the new date: “We need at some point to have this case go to trial.

“Kelly is off the street in the [Metropolitan Correctional Center] and he’s presumably not happy there.”

Greenberg, Kelly’s lawyer, told the judge that he would secure Kelly’s release from the facility “after we win the New York case.”

Federal prosecutors had suggested late October 2020 for the trial but Greenberg argued that would not give him enough time to prepare, according to The Chicago Tribune, citing Kelly being functionally illiterate. This makes reviewing evidence with Kelly a time-consuming process, Greenberg said.

This trial is facing even more severe delays as prosecutors say they can proceed until federal authorities release materials to them that cannot be handed over until the federal trials are concluded.

R&B singer R. Kelly (C) arrives at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building for a hearing on June 26, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Kelly is facing several counts of aggravated sexual abuse.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

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