R. Kelly has been denied a new trial in his child pornography case in Chicago and will be sentenced next week as scheduled.
The disgraced R&B singer was found guilty on six of 13 counts in September 2022, including creating child pornography and enticing minors into illegal sexual activity. He was acquitted of other charges that accused him of fixing a 2008 state-court trial over the same child pornography allegations.
Kelly’s lawyers subsequently filed motions seeking either an overturn of the conviction or a new trial, but those motions were denied by Judge Harry D. Leinenweber on Thursday (February 16).
In his written denial, Leinenweber ruled that federal prosecutors provided “enough evidence to sustain a guilty verdict on all six counts Kelly was convicted of,” according to Billboard.
R. Kelly’s appeal centered around one of his victims, “Jane,” who testified that the singer filmed their sexual encounters when she was just 14 years old.
His lawyers had argued that Jane’s testimony was “not truthful” because she wasn’t entirely honest about her apparent intentions to seek financial compensation from Kelly if he was ultimately convicted
However, Leinenweber countered by saying: “Simply because Jane and her attorney considered the possibility of restitution does not mean she lied during her testimony. Jane’s testimony was that she was undecided. Her testimony was not that she was not intending to pursue restitution.”
R. Kelly’s legal team can still fight the conviction by filing a motion with a federal appeals court and eventually the U.S. Supreme Court, although their chances of victory look slim.
The 56-year-old is due to be sentenced on February 23 and faces as many as 90 additional years in prison. He is already serving 30 years for separate sex trafficking crimes in New York, of which he was convicted in September 2021.
The ruling comes shortly after a series of pending sex abuse charges against R. Kelly in Cook County, Illinois were dropped. The singer was indicted in 2019 on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four alleged victims, three of whom were under the age of consent.
Cook County State’s attorney Kim Foxx announced in January that her office had dropped the charges due to a reprioritization of their “limited resources and court time.” She also cited Kelly’s 30-year sentence in New York and pending sentence in Chicago, saying “justice has been served.”
Kelly’s attorney Jennifer Bonjean later said that her client didn’t exactly celebrate the news. “There is no real sense of relief. He is still fighting for his life. He is facing decades in prison,” she told TMZ, while adding that she believes Foxx made “the right move” by dropping the charges.