CHICAGO (CBS) — Cameras will be allowed in the courtroom for singer R. Kelly’s trial on sexual abuse charges in Cook County, although the alleged victims may not be recorded without their consent.
Cook County Judge Lawrence Flood approved a request from multiple news outlets to allow for extended media coverage of Kelly’s case, meaning cameras and audio recording devices will be allowed in the courtroom for future hearings and the trial.
However, the alleged victims in the case may not be recorded if they testify, unless they give their consent. Two of the alleged victims in the case already have objected to being recorded.
Other witnesses in the case also may object to being recorded, but it will be up to a judge to decide on their objections if they are not alleged victims.
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Defense attorney Steve Greenberg said Kelly welcomes cameras in court for his case.
“Mr. Kelly wants this to be an open and transparent process. So far there’s been rumors. There’s been allegations made all over the place. It’s difficult for him to speak out and defend himself, but with cameras in the courtroom everyone will see what really happens,” he said. “It’s certainly a much better process than a closed courtroom.”
Cameras and audio recording devices have been allowed in Cook County courtrooms since 2015, but only when the judge in a specific case gives permission for what is officially termed as “extended media coverage.” Judges also can restrict live playback of any video or audio recordings.
Cameras were in court last year for the trial of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke in the murder of Laquan McDonald, the trial of three officers later acquitted of a conspiracy to cover up the McDonald shooting, and the trial of the two men later convicted of the murder of Hadiya Pendleton.
Some witnesses in those cases objected to being on camera, but allowed audio recording of their testimony.
Kelly pleaded not guilty last month to 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four victims, three of them underage girls. The alleged abuse goes back 20 years, spanning from 1998 to 2010. Kelly is due back in court on March 22.
Greenberg said he has yet to receive any of the evidence from the prosecution. He said prosecutors plan to hand over the first set of evidence at the next hearing.
Despite the high-profile nature of the case, Greenberg said he doesn’t expect to have a problem choosing a fair jury in the case.
“I expect the sort of media frenzy will die down, and we’ll get a fair jury. There’s a lot of people that live in Cook County to pick from,” he said.
Greenberg said Kelly has been depressed and anxious since his arrest last month, “but he’s strong and he’s still making music, and he’s hoping to go out and play some concerts pretty soon.”
However, Greenberg would not elaborate on any concerts Kelly might have booked.
Days after Kelly was arrested last month, a German concert hall cancelled plans for a Kelly show on April 12. Kelly had scheduled concerts in two locations in Germany and one in the Netherlands in April, but he is not allowed to leave the U.S., and has surrendered his passport while out on bail. He would need permission from the court to leave Illinois under the terms of his bond.