R. Kelly Must Face Civil Sexual Abuse Case

R&B singer R. Kelly, center, arrives at the Leighton Criminal Court on June 26 for an arraignment on sex-related felonies in Chicago. (AP file photo/Amr Alfiky)

CHICAGO (CN) – There is a difference between knowing you had sexual contact and knowing that you were injured by that contact, a Cook County judge told R. Kelly’s attorneys Tuesday before denying the R&B singer’s motion to dismiss a pending civil sexual abuse case against him. 

In a complaint filed earlier this year, Heather Williams alleges Kelly sexually abused her when she was a teenager after stopping her on a Chicago street in 1998 and inviting her to his studio. She alleges the sexual contact began when she was 16 years old and continued until she was 18.

The singer’s attorneys, Zaid Abdallah and Shady Yassin, argue that Williams should have filed her suit within the statute of limitations – two years from the date she turned 18.  They say she knew she was injured by her relationship with Kelly by the time the limitations period began to run.

But William’s attorney, Jeffrey Deutschman, said in court Tuesday that “she did not know she was injured as a result of childhood sexual abuse until much later.”

Deutschman said that the #MeToo movement and “all of these cases hitting the news” are reviving memories for many women such as his client, who are now viewing incidents in their pasts with a new perspective.

Judge Moira S. Johnson agreed. 

“There is a difference between knowing someone had sexual contact and knowing there was an injury,” she said.

Johnson denied Kelly’s motion to dismiss and gave his attorneys 28 days to file an affirmative defense or other response to the complaint, despite their protestations that they were not able to speak with their client because they are not on the list to get into the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where the singer is being held. 

Although he was acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008, Kelly’s current legal troubles include criminal charges in four different courts.

He was initially charged earlier this year with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse in Cook County, Illinois, but prosecutors later upped the count to 21, after four victims came forward with stories similar to Williams’.

Kelly also faces federal racketeering and child pornography charges in Illinois and New York. 

He has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

The indictments –  including one that also charges two of Kelly’s business associates – charge Kelly and his team with recruiting minor girls across the country into a ring of sexual abuse. They allegedly brought the girls to concerts and put them up in hotels and paid off at least one victim and her family to keep quiet about what had happened to her. 

County prosecutors in Minnesota heaped on an additional two counts for prostitution stemming from an underage victim’s accusation that Kelly paid her $200 to dance and engage in sexual contact with him.

Steve Greenberg, who is also representing Kelly, claims the singer is being kept in solitary confinement at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago. Greenberg asked a federal judge to reconsider his detention and release him on bond, because the singer is alone with nothing to do since he has no television and cannot read. 

Federal prosecutors claim that Kelly is not in solitary confinement and has been assigned several cellmates despite initially refusing to have one.

A hearing will be held in federal court in Chicago Wednesday relating to the racketeering and child pornography charges against Kelly. 

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