R. Kelly is currently sitting behind bars for numerous sex crimes, and one of his victims has just been granted first dibs at attaining money from his Sony Music royalty account.
On Thursday (March 23), Illinois Supreme Court ruled Heather Williams was entitled to access the disgraced singer’s label fund — which was reportedly valued at $1.5million in 2020, according to Billboard — before Midwest Commercial Funding, a property manager that won its own separate $3.5million ruling against Kelly over unpaid rent on a Chicago studio.
In 2020, Williams won a $4million judgement against Kelly after filing a civil lawsuit against him a year prior. She alleged that when she was 16, the “I Believe I Can Fly” hitmaker lured her to his studio on a promise she could be in a music video and then had sex with her multiple times as a minor.
The state high court’s decision on Thursday upheld an earlier ruling by a lower court that Williams — and not Midwest Commercial — should be given priority to access the royalties because she was the first to properly file a demand for the money.
The earlier ruling ordered the label to hand over “any funds currently in Kelly’s royalty account” to Williams and to keep paying her from his royalties until the judgment was paid off.
Kelly’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, is seeking to overturn the $4million judgement, and told Billboard that the award to Williams “never should have been entered” because it was issued after Kelly failed to respond to a judgement he knew nothing about.
“I’ve never in my career seen such a flouting of the rules to deny him even the opportunity to defend these civil cases, even when the courts were fully aware that Kelly was incarcerated, unrepresented at points, and facing multiple criminal indictments,” Bonjean said. “Indeed, much of these civil proceedings occurred without Kelly’s knowledge.”
While Williams has been granted priority access to Kelly’s Sony royalties over Midwest Commercial Funding, it’s not yet clear whether she will be given priority over the monetary penalties that the Chicago R&B singer owes to his other victims as a result of his federal criminal convictions.
Last month, Kelly was sentenced to two decades behind bars by a Chicago judge for his federal sexual assault case.
At the sentencing, which took place on February 22, the judge ruled that all but one year would be served concurrent to the 30-year sentence he’s currently serving in New York after being found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking.
A grand jury ultimately found the Chicago native guilty on six of the 13 federal charges which included three child pornography charges for sexually abusing four girls — three of whom were minors.
They also found Kelly guilty of making three videos of himself sexually assaulting his 14-year-old goddaughter, which resulted in another three charges for producing sex tapes with a minor.
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.