Federal Appeals Court Upholds R. Kelly’s Child Pornography Convictions From Chicago Trial

R. Kelly appears for a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on Friday, March 22, 2019 in Chicago. (E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool)R. Kelly appears for a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on Friday, March 22, 2019 in Chicago. (E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool)

A federal appeals court has upheld R. Kelly’s convictions on child pornography and enticement charges, more than 18 months after the conclusion of his trial in Chicago.

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The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday rejected the R&B singer’s claim that the statute of limitations had passed and instead affirmed his convictions, stating that “(f)or years, Robert Sylvester Kelly abused underage girls.”

“By employing a complex scheme to keep victims quiet, he long evaded consequences,” the court wrote in its ruling. “In recent years, though, those crimes caught up with him at last. But Kelly — interposing a statute-of-limitations defense — thinks he delayed the charges long enough to elude them entirely. The statute says otherwise, so we affirm his conviction.”

A Chicago jury found Kelly guilty on three child pornography-related counts and three child enticement charges following a monthlong trial in 2022, finding that he sexually abused his 14-year-old goddaughter “Jane” and other minors in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Kelly was acquitted on seven other counts, including a fourth child pornography count. His co-defendants, Derrel McDavid and Milton “June” Brown, were also acquitted on charges they covered up that abuse by concealing illicit video tapes.

The disgraced singer was previously sentenced to 30 years in prison following his convictions in a separate federal case in New York. Last year, a judge sentenced Kelly to 20 years in prison following his Chicago convictions, but 19 of those years will be served concurrently with his existing New York sentence.

During the trial, four separate accusers testified under pseudonyms — including “Jane,” as well as “Pauline,” “Tracy” and “Nia” — that Kelly had coerced them into illicit sexual activity when they were underage. Another alleged victim, referred to as “Brittany,” never testified.

“Jane,” the government’s key witness, told jurors that she was the 14-year-old girl with Kelly in the three separate sex videos shown at trial. Prosecutors also alleged Kelly recorded a fourth tape with “Jane” and his ex-girlfriend Lisa Van Allen, but that tape was never shown to jurors and Kelly was acquitted on the charge related to that video.

Allegations that Kelly was abusing “Jane” were at the center of the singer’s previous 2008 child pornography trial in Cook County, but “Jane” did not testify in that case and Kelly was ultimately acquitted.

Kelly raised three arguments on appeal, claiming: the statute of limitations excuses him from liability; the court should have severed his trial from his co-defendants; and that his sentence was improper.

But the appeals court determined that the “law does not support Kelly’s position” and rejected each of his arguments.

“An even-handed jury found Kelly guilty, acquitting him on several charges even after viewing those abhorrent tapes,” the court wrote. “No statute of limitations saves him, and the resulting sentence was procedurally proper and — especially under these appalling circumstances — substantively fair.”

Kelly is currently being held at a medium security prison in North Carolina. His scheduled release date is Dec. 21, 2045.

Contact Matt Masterson: @ByMattMasterson[email protected] | (773) 509-5431

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