R. Kelly Pleads Not Guilty To Bribery Charge In Video Appearance In NYC Courtroom From Chicago

Chicago News

CHICAGO (CBS/AP)– R. Kelly pleaded not guilty Wednesday to bribery charges connected to his 1994 marriage to the late singer Aaliyah – who was a teenager at the time.

The singer, full name Robert Sylvester Kelly, appeared in U.S. District Court in Chicago to enter the plea before a federal judge in the Eastern District of New York via closed-circuit television. His attorney, Steven Greenberg, entered the plea on his client’s behalf.

Kelly also had New Jersey-based attorney Douglas Anton representing him in the Brooklyn courtroom.

A revised indictment in federal court in Brooklyn accused Kelly of scheming with others to pay for a “fraudulent identification document” for someone identified only as “Jane Doe” on Aug. 30, 1994.

A day later, R. Kelly, then 27, married 15-year-old R&B singer Aaliyah – full name Aaliyah D. Haughton – in a secret ceremony arranged by Kelly at a hotel in Chicago. The marriage was annulled months later because of Haughton’s age.

Kelly was asked by Brooklyn U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly if his attorneys had read the entire 30-page document to him, and they said they did.

Only the judge and attorneys were permitted to see Kelly on the video screen in the Brooklyn courtroom, but Anton said Kelly looked healthy.

From the Chicago courtroom at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse, Chicago Tribune reporter Jason Meisner tweeted that Kelly was dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit with his hands clasped behind his back.

With regard to the last indictment, Anton told CBS News Producer Lauren Hoenemeyer: “Our position has been made clear, the charges alleged from 1994 are ridiculous, there was no bribery of a government official. He’s a musical genius but if I asked him to make a fake ID he would have no idea how to do that.”

Anton declined to discuss whether Kelly’s legal team had been in touch with Aaliyah’s family.

He also remarked on the upcoming release of the documentary, “Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning,” which is due out on Lifetime on Jan. 2.

The series is a follow-up to the original “Surviving R. Kelly,” a six-part series that premiered last January. An estimated 12.8 million people watched the original series, which revisited old allegations and brought new ones into the spotlight.

“Since the trailer of ‘Surviving R. Kelly Part II’ was released, our offices have received 380 calls from various people saying that their interviews were edited or misconstrued, or that they were cut out from the documentary because the filmmakers didn’t like what they had to say,” Anton said.

On R. Kelly’s current state, Anton said: “R. Kelly is writing new lyrics while in jail, he’s writing uplifting songs and is in a good state of mind. He’s writing about his journey in the system. Not somber at all. He’s planning for the rest of his life. His team has been working on future record contracts.”

Kelly is also charged with racketeering and other counts in Brooklyn. The singer also faces state and federal sex crime charges in Minneapolis and Chicago.

Kelly was first indicted on 10 counts of criminal sexual abuse in February, accusing him of abusing four different victims.

In May, prosecutors filed upgraded charges involving one of those victims; including aggravated criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse. The four aggravated criminal sex assault charges are class X felonies and carry prison terms of up to 30 years if he’s convicted.

On Wednesday, Judge Lawrence Flood scheduled a tentative trial date of Sept. 14 for Kelly, and gave Cook County prosecutors until Jan. 22 to decide which of the four cases they will proceed with first.

Kelly, who is being held in federal custody without bond, and was not at Wednesday’s hearing, also faces two separate trials on sex crime charges in federal courts in Chicago and New York.

He also is charged with engaging in prostitution with an underage girl in Minnesota, but no trial date has been set in that case.

A 13-count federal indictment in Chicago accused Kelly of videotaping himself having sex with underage girls, and paying hush money and intimidating witnesses to cover up his crimes. Federal prosecutors say he sexually abused five girls in the late 1990s, made videos of four of the victims, and then tried to cover it up.

The charges also include allegations he paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to recover tapes of him sexually abusing the girl at the center of his 2008 child pornography trial and coerced the victim to lie about what happened.

His federal trial in Chicago is scheduled for April 27.

In the New York case, Kelly is using his fame to recruit young women and girls for illegal sexual activity. The racketeering case also accuses him of kidnapping, sexual exploitation of a child and forced labor. The defense has labeled the accusers disgruntled groupies.

Kelly’s federal trial in New York is scheduled for May 18.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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