NEW YORK (AP) – R&B star R. Kelly has gained weight and lost money while awaiting a sex trafficking trial that begins in earnest next week, his lawyers said at a trial Tuesday.
The revelations came when U.S. District Judge Ann M. Donnelly issued a series of judgments in New York to restrict what evidence can be presented to the jury. Ruling mostly on prosecutors, she said some evidence is being excluded because it is too similar to other parts of the case that aim to show Kelly that he is blackmailing into persecuting women and girls he may abuse.
The Grammy-winning, multi-platinum R&B singer is accused of running a company of managers, bodyguards, and other employees who helped him recruit women and girls for sex, sometimes at concerts and other venues. He has not pleaded guilty to extortion, bribery, coercion, seduction or sex trafficking.
Devereaux Cannick, one of his lawyers, told the judge that Kelly, nee Robert Sylvester Kelly, needs to be measured for new clothes because he put on so much weight in prison.
And he requested that court transcripts be made available free of charge since Kelly has been disabled for two years.
“His funds are gone,” Cannick said of a client who left the courtroom with his hands tied after the hearing.
“It will be a long process,” Donnelly said after prosecutors set out their plans to summon numerous witnesses, including women who claim they were sexually abused, physically abused and forced to do things for Kelly’s pleasure.
The judge said the witnesses accusing abuse can only testify by their first name, which will be given to the jury, who will be in the gallery rather than the jury box due to a reconfigured courtroom bound by coronavirus restrictions will sit.
Donnelly also said she generally won’t allow questions aimed at exposing whether any of the women have had mental health treatment. She said she will not allow the jury to be told that a witness worked as an exotic dancer years after testifying that she was molested.
Statements about religious beliefs or that some of the women were instructed to have sex are also likely to be excluded from the trial, the judge said.
Potential jurors have already completed questionnaires to make sure they don’t have any prejudices that could affect their judgment. You will start answering questions next Monday.
Kelly, is known for works like the 1996 hit “I Believe I Can Fly” and the cult classic “Trapped in the Closet,” a multi-part story of sexual betrayal and intrigue.
Kelly’s sex life has been put to the test since the 1990s, and he has also faced sexual charges in Illinois and Minnesota. He did not plead guilty.
The New York judge ruled last week that the public and media would be banned from the courtroom after 12 news organizations requested that six reporters be admitted because monitoring of part of the courtroom on monitors in two overflow rooms was and possibly inadequate an open procedure does not play a role. She cited the coronavirus restrictions.
As he was leaving the courthouse on Tuesday, Cannick, one of Kelly’s attorneys, was asked if the courtroom closure could be an appeal if his client was convicted.
He smiled and said, “If there was a condemnation, we would take advantage of every mistake that was made” in an appeal.
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