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Judge Denies R. Kelly’s Request for New Trial on Child Pornography Charges

todayFebruary 16, 2023 3

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A Chicago federal judge has rejected R. Kelly’s bid to overturn his conviction last year on child pornography charges, clearing the way for sentencing which is scheduled for next week.

Denying motions filed by Kelly’s lawyers seeking either a new trial or an outright acquittal, Judge Harry D. Leinenweber ruled Thursday (Feb. 16) that federal prosecutors provided jurors with “enough evidence to sustain a guilty verdict on all six counts Kelly was convicted of.”

Among other arguments, Kelly’s lawyers had argued that one of his victims (known as “Jane”) gave false testimony on the witness stand about whether she planned to seek monetary restitution from Kelly if he was ultimately convicted. They said the incident suggested Jane had “motivation to share her story in ways that were not entirely honest.”

But Judge Leinenweber saw things differently: “Simply because Jane and her attorney considered the possibility of restitution, does not mean she lied during her testimony,” the judge wrote.

Following a four-week trial in Chicago federal court, Kelly was found guilty in September on three counts of child pornography and three counts of enticing a minor. He was acquitted of other charges that accused him of fixing a 2008 state-court trial over the same child pornography accusations.

That conviction came after a federal judge in New York previously sentenced Kelly to 30 years in prison in June on separate racketeering and sex trafficking convictions.

Kelly is set for sentencing on Feb. 23 on the Chicago charges. He faces as many as 90 additional years in prison on those convictions.

In seeking to overturn the conviction, Kelly’s lawyers made a number of arguments, including that the government had failed to show conclusively that the singer “enticed” Jane into making child pornography. But Judge Leinenweber ruled instead that there was “ample” evidence to support the charge.

“Jane testified about how Kelly gradually persuaded her into sexual activity with him,” the judge wrote. “Jane described how Kelly induced her into making Videos One through Three and that Kelly positioned the camera and told Jane exactly what to do and say while having sex with him.”

Thursday’s ruling is not the final decision on Kelly’s conviction. His attorneys can still challenge the outcome to a federal appeals court and eventually to the U.S. Supreme Court, though they face long odds in overturning a jury’s verdict.

Kelly’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, did not immediately return a request for comment on Thursday’s order.

Read the judge’s entire ruling here:

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