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R. Kelly's attorney backs off request for singer to travel to Dubai to perform at concerts

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 3/22/2019 Megan Crepeau
R. Kelly wearing a suit and tie © E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune

Embattled R&B star R. Kelly’s attorney asked a Cook County judge on Friday to hold off on his request to fly by private jet to Dubai next month to perform at several concerts.

Kelly’s attorney, Steven Greenberg, offered no explanation in court for the delay other than to say he wanted to provide additional material to Judge Lawrence Flood.

The judge set the next court hearing for Kelly’s sex abuse charges on May 7, well after the singer wanted to travel to the United Arab Emirates to perform in three to five concerts in April.

Kelly cannot find work anywhere in the United States because of a public backlash against him, Greenberg has alleged in a court filing. Kelly needs to perform overseas to pay off his mounting expenses, including child support, unpaid rent and legal fees, according to the defense filing.

Prosecutors have yet to publicly weigh in on the request.

Kelly, 52, was indicted last month on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving three underage girls and a woman over a dozen years, prosecutors allege.

As a condition of his release on $1 million bond, Kelly cannot leave Illinois without permission.

In his filing, Greenberg said Kelly does not pose a risk to flee if he is allowed to go to the United Arab Emirates. Kelly turned himself in after his indictment last month, Greenberg noted, and always appeared in Cook County court on child pornography charges he faced more than a decade ago. He was acquitted of those charges in 2008.

The hearing on Friday was the first in Kelly’s case in which cameras were allowed in the courtroom to video-record and photograph the proceedings.

Flood, who is presiding over the high-profile case, gave the news media that access throughout Kelly’s case. After two of the alleged sex abuse victims objected to their images being shown, the judge barred showing either if they take the witness stand.

Typically, media organizations, including the Chicago Tribune, do not seek to publicly identify victims of sex abuse.

The criminal charges are only the latest in Kelly’s mounting legal, financial and public relations battles.

A secretive dispute over unpaid child support put him in jail for three days until an anonymous donor came up with more than $161,000.

One of the alleged sex abuse victims has recently filed a Cook County lawsuit alleging Kelly began a sexual relationship with her when she was 16.

And city building inspectors earlier this year found multiple code violations at his Chicago studio — a West Loop building he has since vacated. Court records show he owes the studio’s landlord more than $173,000 in back rent and other fees.

In addition, a growing social media backlash was heightened when a Lifetime documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly” aired in January with accusations of sexually predatory and abusive behavior against him by multiple women.

The court filing Wednesday seeking permission to travel overseas said Kelly has been struggling financially as his reputation has come under increasing attack. Some streaming services have removed his songs, and his record company has canceled his contract, Greenberg said.

mcrepeau@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @crepeau

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