With trial looming, R. Kelly’s attorney challenges Chicago charges

Kelly is already facing a potential life sentence in federal prison after a jury in Brooklyn convicted him of racketeering. His sentencing there is set for June 15. Though his attorney had hoped to delay Kelly’s sentencing until after his Chicago trial, the Brooklyn judge refused.

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R. Kelly walks with supporters out of the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in June 2019.

R. Kelly walks with supporters out of the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in June 2019.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file photo

R&B singer R. Kelly’s new defense attorney has turned her sights on the federal charges still pending against him in Chicago, arguing that prosecutors filed them about a decade too late.

Jennifer Bonjean, the attorney with Chicago roots who helped free actor Bill Cosby, filed a motion Monday seeking to dismiss several of the charges pending against Kelly. The singer is charged in Chicago’s federal court with child pornography and obstruction of justice.

His Aug. 1 trial is three months away.

Kelly is already facing a potential life sentence in federal prison after a jury in Brooklyn convicted him of racketeering. His sentencing there is set for June 15. Bonjean had hoped to delay Kelly’s Brooklyn sentencing until after his Chicago trial, but the Brooklyn judge refused.

For now, Kelly is locked up in a federal detention center in New York.

Bonjean’s new motion targets counts alleging that Kelly exploited a minor to create child pornography in 1998 and 1999, sought to obtain child pornography between 2001 and 2007, and committed other sex crimes between 1996 and 2001.

She argued that the statute of limitations largely expired on those counts around 2009, a decade before Kelly’s federal indictment in Chicago.

“In its recently discovered enthusiasm to prosecute Mr. Kelly, the government reaches back a quarter century to bring charges of sexual abuse and receiving child pornography that have been long time-barred,” Bonjean wrote.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber, who presides over the case, has previously denied a motion to dismiss an additional obstruction of justice charge also pending against Kelly.

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