R. Kelly delays request to travel to Dubai

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R. Kelly walks with attorneys and supporters out of the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, in March. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

R. Kelly’s plans are still up in the air about traveling to the Middle East next month to perform a series of concerts and possibly meet with royalty while he awaits trial on sex abuse charges.

At a hearing Friday, defense attorney Steve Greenberg asked the Cook County judge presiding over the four sexual abuse cases to delay a ruling on the R&B singer’s request to travel to Dubai.

Greenberg told reporters after the hearing that he wanted to provide more detailed information to Judge Lawrence Flood before asking him to rule on the request. The next hearing in the case was set for May, but Greenberg said there still was a chance the singer might make his April tour dates in Dubai.

“We’ll get that information to (the judge), hopefully before April 15,” Greenberg said, noting that the embattled singer has received numerous requests to perform despite the 10 counts of criminal sexual abuse he faces in connection with allegations made in cases involving four different women.

“People know he’s available to do shows. They want him to do shows, his fans love him,” Greenberg said. “He’s presumed innocent, he hasn’t been convicted of anything. He should be able to do shows.”

Kelly, who surrendered his passport as a condition of his bond, filed a request this week to fly to Dubai, where he has booked as many as five performances and is “supposed to meet with the Royal Family.”


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Kelly has been dropped by his record label and music streaming services have stopped promoting his songs amid the fallout from his criminal charges and the allegations by women who had been involved in sexual relationships with the singer — that began when they were underage — in the six-part “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary.

Kelly’s entertainment lawyer, Douglas Anton, said Kelly had numerous offers for performances in the U.S. and abroad and material for new albums and that, professionally, “things were “looking up.”

Kelly spent three nights in jail after his arrest for the sex abuse cases, unable to post the $100,000 bond until a suburban woman who said she was a friend put up the money. Two weeks later, he was jailed for another three-night stint after a domestic relations judge ordered him locked up for failure to pay nearly $200,000 in back child support and other expenses to his ex-wife.

In recent months, two concert venues in Illinois canceled appearances by the singer, and Greenberg has said Kelly no longer holds the rights to some of his biggest hits. The #MuteRKelly organization announced Friday they had asked Flood not to allow Kelly to travel for concerts and claimed that protests by sister organizations had managed to shut down Kelly concerts in Europe, New Zealand and Australia.

Asked how much the singer would be paid for his Dubai appearances, Greenberg noted the singer’s expenses, including child support, a criminal defense team and lawyers to represent him in civil lawsuits.

“He hasn’t been offered enough, I can tell you that,” Greenberg said.

In an interview with CBS reporter Gayle King, a sometimes outraged Kelly said he had been victimized financially by associates but also said he had $350,000 in a bank account. He also said when he went to withdraw the money after his arrest, it was the first time he had ever been in a bank.

Kelly’s motion says he will travel to Dubai via “private jet,” and Greenberg said Kelly’s employer will be footing the bill for the flight. Dubai has no extradition treaty with the U.S., though Emirati law requires law enforcement there to “aggressively seek out anyone wanted by a foreign government.”

Kelly made international trips repeatedly during the six years he was free on bond ahead of his 2008 trial on child pornography charges, the motion notes, and never missed a court date. Kelly was acquitted of the child porn charges.

At the hearing Friday, prosecutors said they did not plan to give Kelly’s defense team a copy of video of Kelly allegedly having sex with an underage girl sometime between 1998 and 1999 — key evidence in one of the cases pending against the singer that was “tantamount to child porn,” Assistant State’s Attorney Jennifer Gonzalez said. Flood said the tape could be provided under a protective order that would bar the public release of any portion of the video.

Outside the courtroom, Greenberg said the state would not be able to play “hide the ball” with crucial evidence.

“I’m not going to disseminate this video. They should be giving us the video,” Greenberg said. “I don’t know why they don’t want to let us see the video.”

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