R. Kelly is going on the road — for his sex-trafficking and racketeering trial in New York.
On April 15, a federal judge approved a request from prosecutors to extradite the “Ignition” singer from Chicago to New York City, to stand trial after multiple delays because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Page Six.
Kelly’s legal team has spent the last year petitioning the court for the Grammy-winning artist to be released from the Chicago jail where he is being held without bail, citing concerns about the coronavirus. In an 18-page brief filed in March 2020, the attorneys argued Kelly, 54, is at increased risk “because of his age and existing health issues.” Their request was denied.
At the virtual hearing Thursday, U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly said there are protections in place that would make it safe for Kelly’s trial in Brooklyn to move forward in August.
U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Geddes told the judge prosecutors would “begin that process of moving [Kelly] to Brooklyn from Chicago for trial.”
Judge Donnelly added that new safety protocols have been implemented as the pandemic rages on.
“It’s going to be normal as that is defined in these unusual times,” she said. “It may be that communication is through headsets, but it’s been working in other trials so I’m not too concerned about that.”
Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, is currently locked up at Chicago’s Metropolitan Correctional Center on child pornography, enticement of a minor and obstruction of justice charges.
He was taken into custody on July 11, 2019. That same week, federal prosecutors in New York indicted the singer on kidnapping, racketeering, forced labor and child sex charges.
[Read the New York indictment here]
Steve Greenberg, one of Kelly’s lawyers, released a statement in February saying: “Robert is in good spirits and ready for the fight.”