Thursday, October 29, 2020

R. Kelly pleads not guilty to bribery charge connected to underage marriage

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R. Kelly pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to a bribery charge that appears to be related to his 1994 marriage to the late singer Aaliyah. Kelly entered his plea in the Eastern District New York court via video conference from Chicago federal court.

Kelly’s New Jersey-based attorney, Doug Anton, represented him in the Brooklyn courtroom while the singer’s Chicago attorney, Steve Greenberg, appeared with Kelly in person in Chicago. Anton entered the plea on Kelly’s behalf.

“Our position has been made clear, the charges alleged from 1994 are ridiculous, there was no bribery of a government official,” Anton tells CBS News. “He’s a musical genius, but if I asked him to make a fake ID, he would have no idea how to do that.”

Kelly has also been charged with racketeering in Brooklyn. The New York City indictment alleges Kelly ran a racketeering enterprise for 20 years comprised of “managers, bodyguards, drivers, personal assistants…as well as members of his entourage” who recruited women and underage girls for sex with Kelly. According to federal prosecutors, Kelly and his team transported the women across the country and often filmed the sexual activity, including sex with the underage victims.

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The singer is currently behind bars in Chicago, awaiting trial on charges of sexually abusing women and underage girls.

In a separate hearing on Wednesday, a Chicago judge set a tentative trial date of September 14, 2020, for Kelly. Judge Lawrence Flood has given Cook County prosecutors until January 22 to decide which of the four cases on aggravated criminal sex assault charges they will try first, CBS Chicago reports. Kelly did not appear for the hearing in Chicago.

Kelly’s federal trial in Chicago is scheduled to begin April 27, 2020, and his federal trial in New York is set for May 18, 2020.

Kelly has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him. Judges have denied Kelly bail due to concerns he may attempt to flee or tamper with witnesses.

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“R. Kelly is writing new lyrics while in jail, he’s writing uplifting songs and is in a good state of mind,” Anton said. “He’s writing about his journey in the system. Not somber at all. He’s planning for the rest of his life.”

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