By Eric Cox


CHICAGO (CBS) — Four months after he was first indicted on sexual abuse charges, R. Kelly’s defense team has been given a copy of video evidence allegedly showing him assaulting one of four victims in his case. Meantime, the judge in the case said he wants the trial to start early next year.

During a status hearing in his criminal case on Wednesday, Cook County prosecutors said they were providing Kelly’s attorneys with a DVD of the video evidence. Prosecutors have said the video footage shows Kelly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl.

Because the video allegedly contains child pornography, Judge Lawrence Flood signed a protective order allowing Kelly’s attorneys to view the evidence without committing a crime. The order also prohibits anyone from sharing the pornographic video.

“If there’s any violation of this protective order, I’m going to impose sanctions – severe sanctions,” he said. “Plus, there could be criminal implications to a violation of this protective order.”

Meantime, Flood said the court’s pretrial services office hasn’t been able to contact Kelly, so his attorneys must provide them with his current address and phone number. Defense attorney Steve Greenberg said Kelly is still living in his condo in Trump Tower.

Flood said he would like to set a trial date for early next year. Because Kelly is accused of sexually abusing four victims, prosecutors must first decide which of those cases to take to trial first.

Prosecutors said they expect to choose which case to go forward with first by Kelly’s next hearing on Aug. 15.

Kelly was first indicted on 10 counts of criminal sexual abuse in February, accusing him of abusing four different victims. In May, prosecutors filed upgraded charges involving one of those victims; including aggravated criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse. The four aggravated criminal sex assault charges are class X felonies and carry prison terms of up to 30 years if he’s convicted.

The singer pleaded not guilty to the added charges earlier this month. Defense attorneys have said the charges filed in May are not really new and center on the same alleged conduct involved in the original February indictment, just charged differently.

Kelly already has pleaded not guilty to the earlier charges.

Eric Cox