R. Kelly absent from court hearing due to incarceration on federal cases

An Illinois judge overseeing singer R. Kelly's sexual-abuse case says he'll proceed toward a trial despite three new cases being brought against Kelly.

Cook County Judge Lawrence Flood noted Thursday at a status hearing that a federal case in Chicago, one in New York and a Minnesota case have all been brought since July. Kelly has denied any wrongdoing.

Flood asked attorneys if there's agreement about which of the four cases should proceed first. When a prosecutor said that hadn't been decided, Flood said he'd proceed for now as if no other cases existed.

The multiple cases complicate moving Kelly from a downtown Chicago jail to different hearings. A defense lawyer said Kelly didn't appear Thursday because of transportation issues.

"There was a discussion between myself and the US Marshals and the decision was made that it was just, it was logistically possible, but overwhelming to get him here today," defense attorney Steven Greenberg said.

Greenberg declined to comment on a report by TMZ that prominent California attorney Tom Mesereau is joining the defense team.

Mesereau defended Michael Jackson when the pop star was acquitted of child molestation, and he helped with actor Robert Blake's acquittal on charges he murdered his wife.

No matter who represents Kelly, the judge said he expects the R&B superstar to be in court on September 17 when prosecutors will ask for an increase in his $1-million bond.