R. Kelly's federal child pornography trial in Chicago will begin on Aug. 1 after a judge denied his request to postpone during a hearing on Tuesday. The "I Believe I Can Fly" singer's attorney told U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber there was an "exorbitant amount of material" her team needed to go through for the trial, but Leinenweber said the trial had already been delayed enough. Kelly is already facing a life sentence in federal prison after he was convicted of racketeering and sex trafficking charges in September 2021 in New York.
Attorney Jennifer Bonjean, who was a member of Bill Cosby's defense team, told Leinenweber via telephone conference call that there was "an exorbitant amount of material to digest," reports Fox 32 Chicago. She said Kelly was "looking down the barrel of a life sentence." Leinenweber rejected her request, noting that the case has been delayed "time and again" and it has "to go to trial."
Kelly is facing federal charges of child pornography and obstruction of justice in the Chicago trial. Bonjean filed a motion to dismiss several of the charges, although Leinenweber did not rule on those motions. He previously denied Bonjean's motion to dismiss one of the obstructions of justice charges Kelly faces.
Kelly is now in a federal detention center in New York, awaiting a June 15 sentencing hearing. Bonjean also wanted that hearing postponed until after the Chicago trial, but the judge in New York refused. Kelly could be sentenced to life in prison after he was found guilty of all eight counts of sex trafficking and one count of racketeering.
During the New York trial, prosecutors told the jury Kelly oversaw an operation involving bodyguards, assistants, and others who recruited underage girls for his sexual gratification. Several women, who were underage at the time they met Kelly, gave graphic testimony, recounting how Kelly allegedly used them for his sexual desires. The allegations included Kelly taking some of the women across state lines. Witnesses said Kelly attempted to control every aspect of their lives and had to ask permission to leave. Some said he gave them herpes.
Kelly has long denied the allegations. Former employees and associates testified for the defense, claiming they never saw Kelly abuse young girls. His lawyers claimed the women were stalkers who tried to take advantage of his popularity.
In the Chicago case, Kelly is accused of filming himself having sex with underage girls and bribing witnesses to cover up the alleged crimes, reports CBS News. He also faces sexual assault and sexual abuse charges in Illinois state court, but those cases have been delayed because of the pandemic. There is also a Minnesota case, in which Kelly is accused of sex crimes involving a minor.