NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — The trial for embattled singer R. Kelly doesn’t start for weeks, but there’s already a legal fight swirling around who will be allowed to testify.
A federal judge is being asked to admit new evidence of sexual abuse involving the jailed singer. He goes on trial later this month for racketeering, accused of using his music career like a criminal enterprise.
Acquitted by a Chicago jury in 2008 on charges of child pornography, Robert Sylvester Kelly now faces dozens of counts involving alleged victims identified only as Jane Does 1 through 6.
Now, federal prosecutors want to add 15 more. Kelly’s defense team says they were ‘blindsided,” lack time to prepare and say the request is a violation of their client’s constitutional rights
A defense memo said, “The government’s request is untimely.”
“When it comes to R. Kelly criminal charges, this is the tip of the iceberg,” said Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor.
While they’re not bringing new charges, the feds are bringing substantial new allegations telling the judge they have evidence of sexual abuse, hush-money payments, unlawful imprisonment and other crimes dating back 30 years, including an allegation that Kelly sexually abused a 17-year-old boy he met at a Chicago McDonald’s in 2006.
“The more that is in front of a jury, the harder it is for them to have doubt about all these people,” Mariotti said. “For a defense team to explain away a lot of different victims can be very difficult.”
Kelly denies ever abusing anyone.
Jury selection is set to begin in one week. The trial’s expected to last at least a month.
Along with federal charges, Kelly faces state charges in Illinois and Minnesota.
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