Cook County prosecutors undecided on new R. Kelly trial

Dec. 13 hearing set for R&B singer convicted on federal charges related to sex with underage girls in New York, Chicago, after prosecutors seek more time to gather documents.

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Singer R. Kelly with his former attorney, Steven Greenberg, during a 2019 hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.

R. Kelly, who did not appear in court Monday, is serving a 30-year prison sentence on racketeering charges from his federal trial in New York.

Pool, Getty

Cook County prosecutors on Monday asked for more time to decide on whether to prosecute R&B star R. Kelly on sexual abuse charges involving four Chicago-area women.

At a brief hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court building, Assistant State’s Attorney Tene McCoy Cummings told Judge Lawrence Flood that the prosecution still is assembling transcripts from Kelly’s trials in federal court in New York and Chicago, where the singer has already been convicted on charges related to having sex with underage girls. Cummings asked for another 30 days to review the records. Flood set the next hearing in the case for Dec. 13.

“I am eager to see where the state stands on this and to push forward if that’s where we’re going,” said Kelly’s lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean. Bonjean, who represented Kelly in his federal trial in Chicago and is handling his post-trial motions in New York, offered to provide transcripts to the prosecution.

“I don’t think transcripts should stand in the way beyond the 30 days,” Bonjean said.

The 55-year-old singer was not present for the brief hearing Monday. He’s serving a 30-year prison sentence on racketeering charges from his federal trial in New York. Kelly is likely to see several more decades tacked onto his prison term when he is sentenced on federal charges in Chicago, where a jury in September found him guilty of multiple child pornography and child enticement counts.

State’s Attorney Kim Foxx in January 2019 made a public request for victims to come forward after the “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary series aired that month and brought fresh attention to decades-old allegations against the singer.

Kelly was indicted in February 2019 on charges of sexually abusing four women, including three underage girls, and charges in federal court and Minnesota came soon after. The Cook County cases dated back as far as the late 1990s, and based on court files, at least two of his alleged victims already have testified against Kelly in either the New York or Chicago federal trials.

One alleged victim, identified in Cook County records by the initials “R.L.” appears to have been the star witness at Kelly’s Chicago federal trial. Testifying under the pseudonym “Jane,” the woman said Kelly began molesting her when she was just 14 and that the singer persuaded her and her parents not to cooperate with investigators ahead of Kelly’s 2008 Cook County trial for making sex tapes with her when she was a minor.

Another of his alleged victims, identified in court records by the initials “H.W.,” appears to be Heather Williams, who sued Kelly shortly after he was charged in Cook County. Williams, who claimed the singer approached her when she was 16 and had sex with her multiple times in the year that followed, won a $4 million default judgment against Kelly after the singer failed to make timely responses to her lawsuit.

Williams has not received a payout, but the litigation has tangled the singer’s access to his bank accounts. Her attorney, Jeffrey Deutschman, declined to comment Monday on whether the state’s attorney should continue to prosecute the cases.

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