R Kelly’s New York trial set for April 2021

The date has been set for R Kelly’s New York trial on sexual abuse charges. It will begin on 7 Apr 2021, with jury selection taking place the previous day.

Kelly has been held in custody ever since being arrested in July last year and faces charges in multiple American states. In the New York case – ie the one set to be heard next April – he is accused of leading an operation to aid him in engaging in illegal sexual activity with six women.

The musician has made repeated requests for release on bail while he awaits the various court hearings, all of which have been denied. Concerns have been raised by prosecutors that Kelly is a flight risk, and that he may also try to intimidate witnesses if allowed to go free in the run up to trial.

Fears of witness tampering also led to prosecutors to request that jurors identities be kept anonymous in next year’s hearing, a request that New York judge Ann Donnelly granted last month.

Kelly’s attorney Michael Leonard unsuccessfully argued that that move was inappropriate for his client’s case, and that such protection of each juror’s identity was only normally put in place for cases involving organised crime bosses.

“[Kelly] is charged with leading a criminal enterprise that paid out large sums over the past two decades to bribe witnesses and cover up his misconduct, and he faces a significant prison term if convicted”, noted Donnelly when approving the motion.

Speaking to Billboard, Leonard said that Kelly was glad that a trial date had finally being set, adding: “It’s been long and onerous, but on the other hand I think he is eager to get to trial”.

The New York case was originally supposed to get to court in July, but has been postponed a number of times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. His Chicago trial had been due to begin last month, but has now been moved back to December. In addition to this, Kelly is also awaiting trial in Minnesota.