R. Kelly to face federal trial in Chicago on charges of child pornography and obstruction of justice

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CHICAGO — Nearly two months after being convicted in New York and serving a 30-year sentence on federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges, disgraced musician R. Kelly will return to court for a second federal trial, this time on allegations of child pornography and obstruction of justice, in his hometown of Chicago.

The jury selection is set to begin Monday in a case stemming from complaints from several women alleging that Kelly, 55, lured them into sexual acts while they were minors. According to court documents, at least two witnesses are expected.

This trial is expected to resurface the charges against Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, 14 years ago in a state trial of child pornography charges, for which he was eventually acquitted.

Illinois federal prosecutors allege that Kelly obstructed justice in that 2008 criminal trial in Cook County, which involved a video recording of Kelly allegedly sexually assaulting a minor.

The singer will be tried along with his former business manager, Derrel McDavid, and associate, Milton “June” Brown, who are both charged with conspiring with Kelly to intimidate and bribe witnesses and conceal evidence in the 2008 trial. according to federal charges. against them.

Kelly has denied any allegation.

Neither Kelly’s attorneys nor prosecutors have responded to NBC News’ requests for comment.

Mary Higgins Judge, an attorney representing Brown, declined to comment. Brown pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

Beau Brindley, an attorney for McDavid, said in a statement that during the time relevant to the charges in the case, he “did just one thing: he did his job.

“His job was to protect Robert Kelly’s image and his career. To do that, he hired some of the best lawyers in the United States,” Brindley said. “Those are the only people Mr. McDavid has entered into agreements relevant to this case. mr. McDavid and these lawyers have done their job. They performed it superbly. That was not a crime then. It’s not a crime now. We look forward to Mr McDavid’s acquittal.”

How will the Illinois case differ from the New York case?

The trial is one in a series of federal and state cases against Kelly in three states: New York, Illinois and Minnesota.

He was convicted last year and sentenced in June in a federal court in New York to 30 years in prison on nine charges of racketeering and sex trafficking. Jurors in that case found that Kelly had set up a criminal enterprise that allowed him to recruit and transport underage girls for sex. Kelly’s attorney said he will appeal.

While the New York case, according to evidence and testimony presented in court, centered on charges of racketeering and allegations that Kelly, his bodyguards, drivers, managers and others developed a decades-long plan that resulted in the sexual abuse of young fans, the Illinois trial will focus on conduct during previous legal proceedings and videotapes allegedly made by Kelly that constituted child pornography.

In many ways, this case will be a repeat of the 2008 trial, which was missing several key elements, said Micheal Leonard, a Chicago attorney who worked briefly on Kelly’s defense team in 2020 for both the New York and Illinois indictments. before quitting last year.

“This case focuses more on things that happened in the past, particularly with regard to the previous legal proceedings in Illinois state court,” he said. “The government has a theory in this case that there was a cover-up or interference in its former trial and state court years and years ago, which is very different from what they did in New York.”

In 2008, Kelly was tried in Cook County on charges of child pornography. The trial revolved around a 26-minute videotape sent anonymously to the Chicago Sun-Times in 2002 of Kelly allegedly engaging in sexual acts with an underage girl. NBC News did not watch the videotape.

However, the girl who supposedly appeared on the tape refused to testify at that trial, making it difficult for the jurors to convict Kelly.

The same video is in dispute again, with federal prosecutors now saying that Kelly and his co-defendants “arranged to pay money and arranged for money to be paid on Kelly’s behalf to victims, witnesses and others to ensure that they would not cooperate.” with law enforcement and would conceal and obscure evidence, including videos, relating to Kelly’s sexual contact and sexual acts with minors,” the court said. Kelly has denied any allegation. His lawyers have not responded to a request for comment.

The files also allege that McDavid and Brown “agreed on Kelly’s behalf to intimidate, threaten, pressure, persuade and attempt to persuade the underage girls and their families.”

Leonard said the statement of the alleged victim in that case, who is expected to testify this time, will be at the heart of this case.

“Now you have a person who says, ‘Hey, I was really the victim then,'” he said.

Trial follows years of allegations against Kelly

Activists have long called on Kelly to face charges over the long history of sexual abuse allegations against him.

Kenyette Tisha Barnes, co-founder of the #MuteRKelly social media campaign, an effort to pressure major streaming music services to remove Kelly’s discography from their platforms, said she believes the prosecution in Illinois is important because it ” blatant and recklessness of his crimes that span decades and states. In order for the survivors to heal, we must ensure that every survivor has their day in court.”

She hopes the city of Chicago can also “start to heal…when people in Chicago who have been systematically silenced have their day.”

“R. Kelly was an architect of the Chicago cultural scene for three decades. Yes, he influenced the music and culture of South Chicago, which is predominantly African American. sexual predators,” she said.

The #MuteRKelly movement took a partial win when YouTube removed its official artist channels in October 2021.

Jim DeRogatis, 57, was one of the first journalists to start reporting on the sexual abuse allegations against R. Kelly in the year 2000, first to the Chicago Sun-Times and later to BuzzFeed News.

DeRogatis said he thinks it’s important that R. Kelly go to trial in Chicago.

He said he hopes this trial will force a “cashback in Chicago” because “every system in Chicago has failed dozens of young black girls for years” and “apart from the Chicago Sun-Times, the media has ignored this story for too long.”

He expressed his dismay at the continued popularity of R. Kelly in some circles and the pro-R. Kelly Activity on Social Media and Beyond: “The social media hatred I’m getting is nothing compared to what R. Kelly’s victims are getting, but it’s still unprecedented and deeply disturbing.”

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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