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R. Kelly attorney seeks dismissal of sex abuse, child porn charges in Chicago

The singer’s defense attorney claims federal prosecutors in Chicago waited a decade too long to bring 12 sexual abuse and child pornography charges against her client.

CHICAGO (CN) — R. Kelly's lead defense attorney challenged federal prosecutors' due diligence Monday morning, filing a motion to dismiss 12 of the 13 federal charges the singer and convicted sex offender currently faces in Chicago.

The U.S. Attorney's Office of Northern Illinois first indicted Kelly in 2019, filing 12 felony charges against him for sexually abusing minors and receiving child pornography. Attorney Jennifer Bonjean wrote in her 12-page motion that this was up to a decade too late, given that Kelly allegedly committed these sex crimes between 1996 and 2007. She argued that, per federal statutes of limitations, prosecutors should have charged Kelly no later than 2009 for allegedly sexually abusing the minors, and no later than 2012 for allegedly receiving child porn.

"In its recently discovered enthusiasm to prosecute Mr. Kelly, the government reaches back a quarter century to bring charges of sexual abuse and receiving child pornography that have been long time-barred," the motion to dismiss states.

Bonjean has experience successfully representing high-profile convicted sex offenders. She was part of the legal team that last year convinced the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to overturn Bill Cosby's 2018 sexual assault conviction. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

If presiding U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber grants Bonjean's dismissal motion, Kelly will only face a single conspiracy charge in Chicago federal court for allegedly trying to cover up his sex crimes. Leinenweber, a Ronald Reagan appointee, denied a motion to dismiss that charge in February.

Kelly faces potentially spending the rest of his life in prison, having already been convicted on eight federal sex trafficking charges and one racketeering charge in a New York federal court in September.

Bonjean asked the Barack Obama-appointed U.S. District Judge Anne Donnelly in Brooklyn to postpone sentencing in that case, which is set for June 15, until after Kelly's Chicago trial concluded. She argued that sentencing Kelly while he was still awaiting trial in Chicago would endanger his Fifth Amendment rights.

Donnelly denied the request in April, saying that any potential danger to Kelly's Fifth Amendment rights was outweighed by his victims' right to a speedy resolution of the case.

"The practical effect of granting the defendant’s request would mean that sentencing would take place about a year after the jury’s verdict," Donnelly wrote. "In seeking an adjournment, the defendant maintains that proceeding to sentencing in this case before the completion of his upcoming Illinois trial forces him to choose between speaking with a defense mitigation specialist and invoking his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination... The defendant’s concerns do not justify the significant delay in sentencing that his request entails."

Kelly's Chicago federal trial is set to begin on Aug. 1. Besides his federal case, Kelly also faces an ongoing criminal case in Cook County on 11 counts of sexual assault and abuse. No trial date has been set for that case.

Kelly was tried on child pornography charges in Cook County in 2008. A jury acquitted him.

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Categories / Criminal, Entertainment, Law, Regional

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