Embattled R&B star R Kelly’s attorney asked a Cook County judge recently to hold off on his request to fly by private jet to Dubai next month to perform at several concerts.
Kelly’s attorney, Steven Greenberg, offered no explanation in court for the delay other than to say he wanted to provide additional materials to Judge Lawrence Flood.
The judge set the next court hearing for Kelly for May 7, well after the singer wanted to travel to the United Arab Emirates to perform in three to five concerts in April.
Kelly, 52, was indicted last month on 10 counts of aggravated criminal abuse involving three underage girls and a woman over a dozen years.
As a condition of his release on $1 million bond, he cannot leave Illinois without permission.
Prosecutors have yet to weigh in publicly on the request to travel overseas.
After the brief hearing, Greenberg remained vague with reporters on what information he suddenly wanted the judge to consider before deciding whether to allow the trip to the UAE.
Greenberg suggested he could schedule another court date soon to enable the singer, whose full name is Robert Kelly, to still perform in Dubai next month.
“I think the judge would be in a better position to rule in our favour if we had a little more detail in the motion,” he said. “There’s still a chance he could go to Dubai, sure.”
In a court filing earlier this week, Greenberg said Kelly has been struggling financially as his reputation has come under increasing attack and he has been unable to find work in the US. Some streaming services have removed his songs, and his record company has cancelled his contract, the attorney said.
Kelly needs to perform overseas to pay off his mounting expenses, including child support, unpaid rent and legal fees, according to the filing.
But attorney Doug Anton, who said he represents Kelly on entertainment matters, told reporters after the hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building that the singer has fielded dozens of offers to perform in recent weeks.
Anton held a thick file folder and said it contained about 150 e-mails received by Kelly in the past six weeks – “offers to perform in just every place possible you can think of,” he said.
In addition, Kelly has several new recordings “in the can ready to go,” Anton said. “Professionally, it’s looking up.”
Anton said he still was confident that arrangements could be worked out so Kelly could travel out of state.
“We’re going to make sure we do everything the judge and the state need for us to do to comply with those formalities and then we’ll have Robert back working,” he said.
Greenberg later told reporters that since he filed for permission to travel just two days ago, Kelly has received many additional requests to perform.
“So since that’s been filed … people know he’s available to do shows,” he said. “They want him to do shows. His fans love him.”
Meanwhile, prosecutors said in court that they do not intend to make a copy of a videotape at the centre of one of the indictments. The footage purports to show Kelly abusing a 14-year-old girl – believed to be the same girl at the centre of Kelly’s 2008 child abuse trial. He was acquitted of those charges.
The state will make arrangements for Kelly’s lawyers to view the tape, Assistant State’s Attorney Jennifer Gonzalez said, but making a copy would be equivalent to distributing the objectionable material.
Greenberg objected, saying his team needed its own copy of the video to prepare a defence. He proposed that a protective order be put in place.
Flood said he would consider the issue later.
The criminal charges are only the latest in Kelly’s mounting legal, financial and public relations battles.
A secretive dispute over unpaid child support put him in jail for three days earlier this month until an anonymous donor came up with more than $161,000.
One of the alleged abuse victims has recently filed a lawsuit in Cook County alleging that Kelly began a relationship with her when she was 16.
And city building inspectors earlier this year found multiple code violations at his Chicago studio – a West Loop building he has since vacated. Court records show he owes the studio’s landlord more than $173,000 in back rent and other fees.
In addition, a growing social media backlash was heightened when a Lifetime documentary series, Surviving R Kelly, aired in January with accusations of predatory and abusive behaviour against him by multiple women. – Chicago Tribune/TNS
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