CHICAGO - R. Kelly on Wednesday was marched out of a courtroom after being found guilty of child pornography charges, a verdict that came nearly a year after the fallen R&B superstar was convicted on sex trafficking charges in federal court in Brooklyn.
But will the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in Chicago be the last time Kelly faces a jury? What is next in the legal saga of Robert Sylvester Kelly?
Federal Court, Chicago
Judge Harry D. Leinenweber set a sentencing date of Feb. 23 for Kelly, who has been in federal custody since his arrest on 13 counts related to videotapes he made that showed him sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl.
The six counts on which he was convicted this past week could lead to a sentence of between 10 and 90 years in prison. Prosecutors here have said they want any sentence to be tacked on consecutively to the 30-year-sentence he was handed in June by a federal judge in New York.
Now 55, the 30-year New York sentence alone is enough that Kelly may not live to see the outside of a penitentiary.
Federal Court, Eastern District of New York
Kelly was convicted of child trafficking and racketeering charges in federal court in Brooklyn last year and was sentenced in June to a 30-year prison term.
He owes $140,000 in fines and fees, and later this month will have a hearing to determine the amount of restitution he has to pay to the victims in the counts on which he was convicted.
Prosecutors in New York this month moved to freeze nearly $30,000 in Kelly’s commissary account — funds he can use to buy food and other items at the prison store — to use toward paying off the $140,000, or whatever else Kelly is ordered to pay.
State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has said her office is reviewing their next moves. To much fanfare, Foxx’s office announced charges against the singer in 2019 for the alleged sexual abuse of four women, including at least three who were minors at the time.
One of those three is the now-37-year-old woman identified by the pseudonym "Jane" in his Chicago federal child pornography case, who accused Kelly on the stand of abusing her countless times while she was underage. She was also the subject of charges brought against the singer the last time he was tried in Cook County — and ultimately acquitted.
Even though the victim and much of the evidence against Kelly will be the same in the state case, Kent Law School professor Richard Kling said it would not be double jeopardy if Cook County prosecutors brought Kelly to trial again.
Prosecutors in Minnesota intend to wait until after Kelly’s federal cases are concluded, including any appeals, before deciding if they will continue to press prostitution charges against Kelly, said Max Page, spokesman for the Hennepin County Attorney.
Officials in Minneapolis filed charges against Kelly in 2019, though the singer was already in custody in Chicago and has yet to make an appearance in court in Minnesota.
What should happen?
Steve Greenberg, who is representing Kelly in the Cook County cases, thinks Foxx’s office should drop the charges against the singer, saying the state-level counts carry less prison time than Kelly already is facing. Prosecutors were to tell the judge in Kelly’s Cook County case whether they intend to move forward at a status hearing in December, Greenberg said.
"Kim Foxx should dismiss these cases," Greenberg said. "Because he’s not guilty, and it’s just piling on."
Attorney Jennifer Bonjean, who represented Kelly in his Chicago federal case, said Kelly will appeal the guilty verdicts here and state-level prosecution would be "a waste of Kim Foxx’s resources."
"I’m sure they have better things to do than try to hang a few more years onto the sentence of a 55-year-old man who has already been held accountable in two federal trials," she said.
Civil lawsuits. Multimillion-dollar payouts
While Kelly was jailed, a pair of civil lawsuits were filed against the singer, who failed to mount a defense, leading to default judgments for his landlord, who said Kelly owes him $1.3 million, and a woman who claims she was sexually abused by the singer, who was awarded $4 million.
His accounts at Sony, which receives Kelly’s royalties for his music, have been frozen as the two plaintiffs battle over whom to pay first.
Kelly also owes back child support to his ex-wife, Drea.