R. Kelly pleads not guilty to sex-crime charges, denied bail after lawyer lost track of him

R. Kelly pleads not guilty to sex-crime charges, denied bail after lawyer lost track of him

R. Kelly pleaded not guilty Friday to charges he sexually exploited young women and girls who attended his concerts, appearing in a federal courtroom in Brooklyn packed with his supporters. For a second time, he was denied bail, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York.

Kelly was arraigned on a second federal indictment accusing him of being the leader of a “racketeering enterprise” that recruited women and girls for illegal sexual encounters with him, including transporting them across state lines.

In the afternoon Kelly appeared before U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly for a status hearing, where the next hearing in the case was set for October, according to John Marzulli, spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn.

Kelly’s attorneys said he would waive his appearance for that hearing. Marzulli said he will be transported back to Chicago where is expected at hearings in August and September in the two other sex-crime cases pending against him in Illinois.

The arraignment Friday was preceded by controversy after his lawyer in the New York case, Douglas Anton, said he was unable to meet with him after he arrived from Chicago on Thursday.

Anton complained in a letter to a federal magistrate late Thursday that he couldn’t find him. Anton said federal Bureau of Prison officials, who flew Kelly into a New Jersey airport on Thursday afternoon, were unhelpful in explaining where he was so that he could meet with his client before the hearing, according to the New York Post and NBC News.

Azriel Clary, left, and Joycelyn Savage, right, two women who say they are R. Kelly's live-in girlfriends, arrive at Brooklyn federal court for his arraignment on sex-crime charges, Aug. 2, 2019 in New York.

Azriel Clary, left, and Joycelyn Savage, right, two women who say they are R. Kelly’s live-in girlfriends, arrive at Brooklyn federal court for his arraignment on sex-crime charges, Aug. 2, 2019 in New York. (Photo: Mark Lennihan/ AP)

NBC posted video of Kelly arriving at New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport. Wearing a tan prison shirt and orange shoes, the R&B star had his hands cuffed in front of him and shuffled along the tarmac as an officer escorted him to a waiting pickup truck.

As of Friday morning, Kelly was in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn; as of Thursday night, prison records showed he was still in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago. 

During the status hearing before Judge Donnelly, Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Geddes said prosecutors will start turning over discovery next week.

Marzulli said both sides are working on a protective order for evidence in the case; in Chicago, the U.S. district judge presiding over that case has already issued a protective order that bars attorneys from talking publicly about new evidence in the case, a move aimed at ensuring the case isn’t tried in the media. 

Kelly was represented at the arraignment by Anton, a New Jersey-based lawyer who also is Kelly’s entertainment attorney. Anton argued Kelly should be released while awaiting trial so that he could better fight charges he dismissed as “groupie remorse.”

Prosecutors argued that Kelly should be kept in jail because he’s a flight risk and a potential “danger” to the community.

Although the defense lost the bid to get Kelly released, Kelly’s lawyers said they will ask Judge Donnelly to reconsider that decision made by a federal magistrate. 

Kelly is charged in a five-count indictment with racketeering, sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping, forced labor and Mann Act violations involving the coercion and transportation of women and girls in interstate commerce to engage in illegal sexual activity, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

R. Kelly, center, arrives at the Leighton Criminal Court in Chicago for arraignment on state sex-crime charges on June 26, 2019.

R. Kelly, center, arrives at the Leighton Criminal Court in Chicago for arraignment on state sex-crime charges on June 26, 2019. (Photo: Amr Alfiky/ AP)

Kelly has been locked up in Chicago since July 11 on another federal indictment by the Northern District of Illinois on similar sex-crime charges, including possession and production of child pornography. 

Kelly has already pleaded not guilty to the federal charges in Illinois. He was denied bond and was locked up in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago until he was taken to New York. 

Kelly also is facing state sex-crime charges in Cook County. Earlier this year, he pleaded not guilty to two sets of multiple sex-crimes, including aggravated criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault by force, aggravated criminal sexual abuse and aggravated criminal sexual abuse against an accuser between the ages of 13 and 17. 

Until he was arrested on the federal indictments, he had been free on bond in the state case.

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