R. Kelly’s new lawyers say the embattled R&B superstar didn’t show up to hearings in a civil sex abuse case because he can’t read.
The Chicago Sun-Times first reported that, on April 23, a Cook County judge entered a default judgment against Kelly after he and his lawyer didn’t respond to summonses in a sex abuse lawsuit filed against him in February.
Kelly was served in early March while he was being held in the Cook County Jail over his failure to pay more than $160,000 in child support to his ex-wife, according to the Cook County sheriff’s office.
“The defendant does not recall being served,” Kelly’s new attorneys, Raed Shalabi and Zaid Abdallah, said in a filing dated April 26. “The Defendant suffers from a learning disability that adversely affects his ability to read, in essence he cannot.”
The two went on to say that Steve Greenberg — Kelly’s criminal defense attorney who has no role in civil litigation — was the one who “informed the Defendant of the default judgment” after several news outlets reported the ruling.
After hearing from Greenberg, Kelly “immediately retained counsel” in the lawsuit.
Darrell Johnson, Kelly’s publicist, told the Sun-Times on April 24 that the singer and his camp were well aware of the litigation, but it was not a priority of theirs.
“We don’t care about the lawsuit,” Johnson said then. “The lawsuit means nothing to us.”
The lawsuit was filed against Kelly on Feb. 21 — a day before he was charged with 10 counts of criminal sexual abuse.
The woman who brought that lawsuit against him is one of Kelly’s four alleged victims in his criminal case. She is not being named as she is the alleged victim of a crime.
The woman alleges that she met Kelly on May 26, 1998, when she was 16 years old. Kelly was driving when he saw her walking down the street and he pulled his car over and talked to her, the suit states.
Later that day, an associate of Kelly’s met with her and her family at a restaurant and gave Kelly’s phone number to the girl. The associate “indicated that the defendant wanted to speak with the minor plaintiff and have her come to his studio and be in a video that he was making,” the suit states.
The plaintiff was “star struck and wanted to meet with defendant to pursue a role in what she believed was a music video,” the suit states. The sexual abuse started within a month, the complaint alleges.
“Commencing in or about June 1998 and thereafter until she was of the age of majority, defendant, Robert Sylvester Kelly, sexually abused plaintiff,” the suit states. “Specifically, defendant, Robert Sylvester Kelly, had sexual intercourse with the minor plaintiff. The defendant also engaged in oral sex with the minor plaintiff. During these repeated incidents, defendant represented to the minor plaintiff that this behavior was appropriate.”
The lawsuit goes on to say that the woman did not remember the abuses until June 2015. She was talking to a therapist when she “broke through her repressed memory and became conscious that the sexual activity with the defendant, Robert Sylvester Kelly, had caused her significant harm and injury,” the suit states.
The lawsuit seeks more than $50,000 in damages.
Jeffrey Deutschman, the woman’s attorney, said that he and his client are “happy to have our day in court if that’s what [Kelly] wants.”
“We don’t envision the jury will find anything but that the defendant abused my client when she was a minor,” he added.