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Charges against others in federal R. Kelly child porn case possible, prosecutor says

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber revealed he’d never heard of the R&B star until the case landed in his courtroom. “To be honest, my wife thinks it’s rather humorous that I didn’t know who Mr. Kelly was,” he said.

In this June 26, 2019, file photo, Musician R. Kelly departs from the Leighton Criminal Courthouse after a status hearing in his criminal sexual abuse trial in Chicago.
R. Kelly
AP Photos

A prosecutor in the R. Kelly federal child porn case said Thursday there might be charges coming against additional defendants.

The brief disclosure came during a hearing in U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber’s courtroom at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse.

At the time, Assistant U.S. Attorney Angel Krull was arguing in favor of a request to keep evidence in the case sealed. She said that because of the nature of the case, some witnesses have been unwilling to come forward. Krull warned of a “chilling effect.”

Then, without specifics, she told Leinenweber that the investigation against Kelly is ongoing and that it may lead to more people being charged.

Kelly was not present for the hearing Thursday.

Mike Leonard, one of Kelly’s attorneys, didn’t seem overly concerned about the revelation.

“That’s news to us,” Leonard told reporters after the hearing. “But it’s something prosecutors often say.”

Earlier this month, prosecutors in both the Northern District of Illinois and Eastern District of New York unsealed two bombshell indictments charging Kelly with child pornography, obstruction of justice and racketeering. Kelly remains locked up at the Metropolitan Correctional Center downtown — in special housing separate from the general population.

Kelly is due to be arraigned in New York next month. A representative from the U.S. Marshals Service in Chicago said Thursday he’s concerned about how his agency would transport Kelly to the East Coast, suggesting the possibility of a video conference arraignment instead.

But Kelly’s attorneys argued he has a legal right to appear in person in the jurisdiction where he is charged — and Leinenweber agreed, ordering the Marshals Service to make arrangements.

Leinenweber also revealed that he’d never heard of the R&B star until the case landed in his courtroom.

“To be honest, my wife thinks it’s rather humorous that I didn’t know who Mr. Kelly was,” the judge told the attorneys.

The lawyers are due back in court Wednesday to further discuss the issue of what evidence should be off-limits to the public. Defense attorneys argue that the prosecution’s request is overly broad.