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Judge sets sex abuse trial for R. Kelly in September

Megan Crepeau, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Entertainment News

CHICAGO -- A Cook County judge on Wednesday set a tentative trial date for September for beleaguered R&B singer R. Kelly even before prosecutors have disclosed which of his four separate indictments they intend to pursue first.

Kelly, 52, who is in federal custody, did not attend the hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.

In trying to speed the cases along, Judge Lawrence Flood repeated his contention that Kelly's pending bombshell federal cases won't impact on the county proceedings.

"I understand there's two other matters in federal court, New York and in Chicago," he said from the bench. "That's not really the concern of this court. These victims are entitled to their day in court just as the other people in the other cases."

Over the objections of Kelly's attorney Steven Greenberg, Flood set the initial trial for Sept. 14. Greenberg had argued it would be premature to schedule a trial at this point.

Kelly is already slated to go on trial in April on the federal charges in Chicago and the following month in Brooklyn.

If all three trials go as scheduled, the singer would face three trials in three separate jurisdictions in about six months.

Last month, though, attorney Jeffrey Steinback, who is known for negotiating guilty pleas, signed on to represent Kelly in his Chicago federal case, raising speculation that Kelly might try to work out a deal with prosecutors on all the pending charges. At the time, Greenberg denied such negotiations were in the works.

At Wednesday's hearing, Flood said he expects prosecutors to announce at the next status hearing in January which case they will proceed on first. He brushed off Greenberg's concerns about it being too early to set a trial date, noting that the county cases have been pending for months.

 

"I'm giving you more than a year to prepare for trial," he said.

Kelly was charged in Cook County in February with four separate indictments accusing him of sexual misconduct over more than a decade. Three of the four alleged victims were underage at the time.

In a 13-count indictment unsealed in July in Chicago's federal court, Kelly was charged for allegedly conspiring with two former employees to rig his 2008 child pornography trial in Cook County by paying off witnesses and victims to change their stories. At the same time, a racketeering conspiracy indictment was unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn, alleging he identified underage girls attending his concerts and groomed them for later sexual abuse.

If convicted in all three jurisdictions, he could potentially face the rest of his life in prison.

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