Robert “R.” Kelly’s federal trial in Chicago now has an official start date.
According to the New York Times, Judge Harry Leinenweber of U.S. District Court officially set the trial date for Sept. 13, 2021. Kelly, who has been in custody at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, is facing charges on child pornography and obstruction. Even though there’s now an official trial start date, Leinenweber noted that it’s still “not set in stone” due to the unpredictable nature of the global coronavirus pandemic and the lockdowns that follow.
Prosecutors in the Northern District of Illinois told Leinenweber they would need three weeks to present evidence against Kelly, who is facing charges that he and two former employees conspired to fix his 2008 state trial in Cook County on child pornography charges by paying off witnesses and victims to get them to change their stories.
Kelly’s Chicago federal trial will begin five months after his New York trial on racketeering charges (alleging Kelly “and his associates ran a criminal enterprise that recruited women and underage girls for illegal sexual contact and then isolated and threatened them to keep them under control and prevent them from going to the authorities.”), scheduled to begin on April 7, 2021. The 53-year-old artist faces up to 20 years in prison for the New York charges and if convicted in Chicago, that’ll potentially add more decades to the sentencing.
Due to the global pandemic, a bulk of the trials in Chicago were halted in spring of this year, but resumed in August with new safety measures and protocols.
Speaking of the pandemic, Kelly’s legal team has attempted to get their client’s release granted several times to no avail. His attorney, Steven Greenberg, most recently requested his client’s release due to the coronavirus as well as an attack against Kelly that occurred in the correctional facility this summer. However, Eastern District of New York Judge Ann Donnelly ruled this summer that Kelly “has not established compelling reasons warranting his release. At present, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the MCC in Chicago.”