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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Matthew Hendrickson

R. Kelly’s request for new federal trial in Chicago denied

R. Kelly walks out of the Daley Center after a hearing in a child support case in March 2019. (Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file photo)

R. Kelly’s request for a new trial in his federal case in Chicago was denied Thursday ahead of his expected sentencing later this month for sexually abusing underage girls and producing child pornography.

Attorneys for the singer had filed a motion for a new trial on Feb. 4, arguing that the prosecution’s star witness had misled jurors when she claimed to not know whether she would seek monetary restitution from Kelly if he was convicted.

The woman, identified as “Jane,” testified that Kelly began sexually abusing her when she was 14 and that Kelly had filmed the abuse on several occasions.

In response to a question by Kelly’s defense team during cross-examination, Jane said she was “undecided” on whether she would pursue restitution. But attorney Jennifer Bonjean argued in her motion for a new trial that the statement was false because Jane had already hired experts to help her seek $13 million from the singer.

“Jane’s testimony was not truthful when she claimed she was ‘undecided’ about whether she would seek restitution from the defendant,” the motion stated. “She knew full well she was seeking restitution in an extraordinary amount if defendant was convicted. The government knew it too.”

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber disagreed, stating in his response that “nothing in the record suggests that Jane was going to pursue restitution, just that it was a possibility.”

“Simply because Jane and her attorney considered the possibility of restitution does not mean she lied during her testimony,” the judge wrote. “Jane’s testimony was that she was undecided. Her testimony was not that she was not intending to pursue restitution.”

Other claims by the defense for a new trial also failed to sway Leinenweber, who denied the motion.

Kelly was convicted in September by a federal jury on three counts of producing child pornography and three counts of enticing a minor into criminal sexual activity. He could face between 10 and 90 years in prison when he is sentenced on Feb. 23.

In a court filing last week, Kelly’s attorneys asked Leinenweber to sentence Kelly to 11 years in prison and said he should be allowed to serve the years at the same time he serves a 30-year sentence from his 2021 conviction on federal racketeering charges in New York.

Prosecutors have yet to file their response on Kelly’s sentencing request.

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