R. Kelly’s federal trial for racketeering, sexual exploitation of a child, bribery, kidnapping, forced labor and enticement is set to begin August 9 in Brooklyn.
Kelly, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, appeared over the phone with his legal team for a status hearing last Thursday where U.S. Judge Ann M. Donnelly set his trial date, Billboard reports. Both Kelly’s attorneys and the prosecution told Donnelly that they were ready to proceed on that date. Questionnaires to potential jurors will begin to be sent out on July 26th.
Michael Leonard, an attorney on the singer’s legal team, said Kelly is looking forward to the upcoming trial: “He’s excited about the possibility of his case to be heard in a fulsome way where witness testimony can be tested and put in the proper context.” When asked how his client is doing in custody, Leonard said anyone would have a difficult time being in federal custody because of the extreme restrictions due to COVID-19.
Steve Greenberg, one of Kelly’s lawyers, said he is pleased that the trial date has finally been set and that he is confident about his case.
Kelly is facing charges in New York alleging that, for over two decades, he was the leader of a racketeering enterprise made up of managers, bodyguards, drivers, personal assistants, and runners who recruited women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with the singer. The sexual activity was often filmed and photographed by Kelly, according to the court filing by the Department of Justice. The charges against him involve six different victims.
Judge Donnelly told Kelly’s defense team that after the delays caused by the pandemic she expects the trial to proceed as normally as possible. Depending on the circumstances this summer, Donnelly said headsets in the courtroom might be used to give defense lawyers communication with Kelly. The court will screen all detainees prior to their court appearances to ensure that their temperature is lower than 100.4 degrees.
Prosecutors are set to begin moving Kelly from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, where he has been in custody since July 2019, to a similar facility in Brooklyn. During his extended wait for a trial, Kelly has asked the court on several occasions to be released citing COVID-19 and other factors, but his requests have been denied. He is also awaiting trial in Illinois regarding separate sexual abuse allegations.