Entertainment Gist

R. Kelly to face trial for sex-trafficking at New York City

American songwriter and singer, Robert Sylvester Kelly has been held in Chicago since 2019, where he’s facing a potential second trial in the fall in a separate federal case related to a sprawling sex crimes investigation.

The trial in Brooklyn federal court had been on hold because of the pandemic. But at a status hearing on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly checked in with lawyers in the case.

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The coronavirus pandemic repeatedly thwarted attempts to put Kelly, 54, on trial in 2020. Instead, he’s been held in federal custody in Chicago’s downtown Metropolitan Correctional Center despite multiple requests for pretrial release. He has been held there since his arrest in July 2019, when prosecutors in Brooklyn and Chicago hit him with indictments in each district.

The Brooklyn indictment charges Kelly with racketeering and alleges Kelly led an “enterprise” made up of his managers, bodyguards, drivers, and other employees who helped him recruit women and girls for sex. The judge there has agreed to keep jurors in the case anonymous and “partially sequestered.”

The Chicago indictment charges Kelly with child pornography and obstruction of justice. It alleges he thwarted his 2008 prosecution in Cook County with threats, gifts, and six-figure payoffs.

Federal prosecutors in New York said they “will be starting that process” of moving R&B singer R. Kelly from Chicago’s downtown lock-up to custody in Brooklyn, where Kelly appears likely to stand trial. A prosecutor said the government would be prepared to put Kelly on trial on August 9. 

Kelly has denied the sex trafficking allegations. On Thursday, one of his attorneys, Steve Greenberg said that his client is looking forward to the trial.

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