CHICAGO (CBS) — R. Kelly’s attorneys on Friday asked a judge to wait to rule on their request to allow the embattled R&B singer to travel to Dubai in April to perform in concerts while he’s free on bond in his sexual abuse case.
Attorney Doug Anton said Kelly’s defense team wants time to provide more information on the concert plans before making their case to Judge Lawrence Flood.
“Although the pickup shows that we usually do in Dubai is something where an out of country talent will come into country, and then do personal appearances, and then book shows, the court requires a little more formality with regard to how we’re going to do that,” Anton said after the hearing. “So we’re going to make sure that we do everything the judge and the state need for us to do to comply with those formalities.”
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Flood scheduled the next hearing in the case for May 7, after the planned concerts in Dubai, but lead defense attorney Steve Greenberg said he could ask the judge to schedule another hearing before then once they’ve gathered all the information they need to get a ruling in their favor.
“I want the court to be comfortable in making a decision,” Greenberg said.
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Kelly’s lawyers have said it’s been hard for the singer to find work in the United States since his arrest on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and the earlier broadcast of the documentary “Surviving R. Kelly,” detailing multiple allegations of sexual and physical abuse.
“Robert needs to be working again,” Anton said.
Greenberg said, although the United Arab Emirates does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S., Kelly has no intention of staying in Dubai, and would return to the United States after his concerts. He noted Kelly traveled all over the world while facing child pornography charges more than a decade ago, and never missed a court date in six years while that case was pending. Kelly was acquitted of those charges in 2008.
Kelly’s publicist, Darrell Johnson, said the singer is eager to “prove his innocence.”
“Right now he needs to get back to things he loves; basketball, music. Once he gets past that, he’s ready for trial,” Johnson said.
In addition to the concerts in Dubai, Kelly is hoping to book other concerts in the U.S. and overseas. Anton said the singer has received approximately 150 emails in the past six weeks, with “offers to perform in just every place possible you can think on the planet.”
Anton said Kelly also has enough recorded songs for three new albums.
“Professionally, it’s looking up,” he said.
Greenberg has said Kelly is struggling to pay his legal bills and child support payments. He spent three nights in jail earlier this month after failing to pay more than $161,000 in overdue child support. His friends and family pooled together money to make those payments and get him out of jail.
Kelly has pleaded not guilty to the sexual abuse charges. As a condition of his bond, he was ordered to surrender his passport, and cannot leave Illinois without the judge’s permission.
Greenberg said, because of cancelled concerts in Illinois, being booted by his record label, and the removal of Kelly’s music from several streaming services, the R&B singer has been forced to look at other ways to make money, including traveling to Dubai to perform.
“I’ve never seen anyone who’s got this kind of a storm … whirling around him, and he gets up every day, and he still tries to do music. He shows up for court. He holds his head high,” Greenberg said.
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The alleged abuse goes back 20 years, spanning from 1998 to 2010. Prosecutors have said Kelly sexually abused four females, including three underage girls. Kelly allegedly had a witness make sex tapes of him sexually abusing with one of the victims, a 14-year-old girl.
Allegations of Kelly’s sexual abuse go back decades and have prompted a recent nationwide protest called #MuteRKelly to boycott his music, in the wake of a Lifetime documentary, “Surviving R. Kelly,” featuring interviews with the music artist’s alleged accusers.
In 2008, Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges connected to a videotape of him allegedly sexually abusing a teenage girl. It took six years from the time Kelly was charged with the offense to the end of the trial. It took the jury less than a day to deliberate.