Judge orders R. Kelly evidence be kept confidential

The R&B star is due to be arraigned in New York on Friday.

SHARE Judge orders R. Kelly evidence be kept confidential
R. Kelly talks to a supporter as he walks into the Leighton Criminal Courthouse June 6, 2019.

The federal judge overseeing R. Kelly’s child pornography case ordered evidence be kept confidential.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The federal judge in the R. Kelly child porn case on Wednesday ruled that evidence exchanged between attorneys in the lead up to a possible trial can’t be shared with the public.

Kelly’s attorneys, and those of his two co-defendants, had argued it was unfair because it doesn’t allow them to respond when potential witnesses — as they have in the past — talk publicly about the case. Defense attorneys say those interviews could “taint” a jury pool for Kelly’s trial.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber, noting the high amount of public interest in the case, said defense attorneys are welcome to take up the issue again on a case-by-case basis.

“We’ll see how it works. And if it becomes unworkable, we’ll revisit the issue,” Leinenweber said.

Prosecutors contended public release of documents could have a “chilling effect” on the case, saying some witnesses have been unwilling to come forward.

“The vast majority of our witnesses have never spoken out publicly,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Angel Krull said in court Wednesday.

After the hearing, Kelly attorney Michael Leonard said, “It’s a fair balance that the judge struck today.”

Prosecutors in the Northern District of Illinois and Eastern District of New York unsealed two bombshell indictments July 12 charging Kelly with child pornography, obstruction of justice and racketeering. Kelly has remained locked up at the Metropolitan Correctional Center downtown in housing separate from the general population.

Kelly is due in court in New York on Friday for his arraignment on the charges there.

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