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CHICAGO — Convicted R&B singer R. Kelly faces a jury trial in Chicago starting August 1 and will do so after with new legal representation after dumping his original Chicago-based attorneys at a hearing on Wednesday in New York.
Kelly will now be represented by New York civil rights attorney Jennifer Bonjean, who started her legal career in Chicago and who represented the musician at a court appearance on Wednesday. Kelly, 54, was scheduled to be in court two weeks ago, but contracted COVID-19 in his Brooklyn jail cell.
Bonjean was granted a two-week extension after she told a judge that Kelly was unable to participate in his post-trial defense because of the illness. On Wednesday, Kelly told a judge that he no longer wants to be represented by his original legal team and wished for Bonjean to take over his legal defense.
Bonjean, who represented comedian Bill Cosby in his appeal of sexual assault charges and won his release from prison, tweeted on Wednesday that she had just filed an appearance in Kelly’s case in Illinois and that trial will begin Aug. 1 in Chicago.
The judge had told Bonjean on Wednesday that trial needed to start as quickly as possible as Kelly has two co-defendants in the case that are seeking speedy trials.
Kelly, who is facing racketeering charges in New York, is represented by Bonjean in that case as well. Kelly was convicted of charges that he used his musical career to further a criminal enterprise. He was found guilty of 12 charges, including having sex with an underage girl as well as bribing an Illinois public official to get a fake ID for a 15-year-old musician so the two could marry.
He is scheduled to be sentenced in May and faces 15 years in prison but faces further charges in Illinois. Kelly is charged with trying to purchase back sex tapes he made with underage girls and also attempting to bribe witnesses in his child pornography case in Cook County in 2008.
Kelly, who has been in custody since 2019, was acquitted of the child pornography charge.