R Kelly to Plead the Fifth in Civil Sex-Assault Case

CHICAGO (CN) – Singer R. Kelly will invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in a civil lawsuit filed against him in Illinois, while also facing criminal sexual-abuse charges in three different states.

R. Kelly appears during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago on Sept. 17, 2019.  (Antonio Perez/ via AP Pool, File)

No stranger to rumors about his alleged sexual abuse of minor girls, the R&B star was sued by Heather Williams in February, the same day Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly M. Foxx brought criminal charges against him in Illinois state court.

Kelly is also up against criminal counts ranging from child pornography to racketeering in New York federal court, Illinois federal court and Minnesota state court, all stemming from his alleged network of minors and young women who prosecutors say he sexually abused over at least two decades.

The victims claim Kelly and his entourage recruited them into a sex ring, controlling them and sometimes videotaping their encounters. Some also say Kelly paid them and their family members to keep quiet about what went on.

Williams says Kelly, now 52, began a sexual relationship with her when she was 16 after approaching her on a Chicago street and inviting her to his studio in 1998.

She “was star struck and wanted to meet with [Kelly] to pursue a role in what she believed to be a music video,” Williams’ complaint says, adding that Kelly “had a long history of interactions with minor young women that he would charm and lure to his studio or residence under the guise of prospects in the music or entertainment business only to become victims of sexual assault.”

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Moira S. Johnson initially granted a default judgment in favor of Williams because Kelly never responded to the complaint. He later claimed that was because he can’t read the papers he was served in jail, and the judgment was vacated.

Johnson also ruled against Kelly’s motion to dismiss the complaint due to the statute of limitations, saying as a minor Williams did not necessarily know she had been injured by her sexual contact with the singer.

“Because of the criminal ramifications it’s not just a civil case,” said Zaid Abdallah, one of Kelly’s attorneys, arguing in court Tuesday for the singer’s motion to exercise his Fifth Amendment rights.

Abdallah also asked the judge to stay the case until the criminal charges have been ruled on.

Williams’ attorney, Deutschman of Deutschman & Skafish, said his client becomes prejudiced in the case “the more we do this dance.”

He wants to get his client a piece of Kelly’s money before all of his criminal attorneys get a hold of it, Deutschman added.

Johnson ruled Tuesday that Kelly can plead the Fifth Amendment in the civil case so as not to incriminate himself, striking his affirmative defense and barring all discovery and depositions from the defendant.

However, the judge said she will not put the civil case on hold.

“I’m not staying anything,” Johnson said in court. “We’re getting ready for trial.”

A trial date will be set as soon as Kelly’s attorneys turn over documents that were previously requested by Williams.

Kelly is stuck in federal prison in Chicago waiting for the first of possibly many trials in April for the federal charges brought against him in Illinois.

On top of his civil and criminal legal troubles, Kelly has also been battling his ex-wife over child support payments, spending time in jail for owing her $161,000.

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