Amidst the ongoing controversy regarding R&B singer R. Kelly, there is now speculation on whether there’s a chance the 52-year-old artist will face new charges after attorney, Michael Avenatti, turned over a recent sex tape to the Cook County prosecutor’s office.
Despite the new video evidence, The Washington Post reports that prosecutors will have to overcome “high legal hurdles,” if they intend to charge and convict Kelly.
One reason is the acquittal of Kelly’s 2008 trial.
Cook County State’s Attorney, Kim Foxx’s office has yet to comment on whether charges will be considered against the R&B star. Because of the current momentum around sexual assault and abuse in the #MeToo era, legal scholars believe that the timing is right for Foxx to file new charges.
“Because they couldn’t get the conviction in 2008, the state’s attorney’s office may feel justice wasn’t done and they may want to take another stab at it,” said Monu Bedi, a DePaul University College of Law professor.
Bedi, who has followed the Kelly closely followed the singer’s case, teaches criminal law and procedure at the university.
Steve Greenberg, Kelly’s attorney said the artist “never knowingly had sex with an underage woman.”
The attorney told the Associated Press that, “If R. Kelly is charged with anything, we will address it in court. I am confident he will leave through the front door.”
If prosecutors are thinking about charging Kelly now, they have to consider whether too much time has passed from the time the alleged crime took place under Illinois law. It was only in 2017 that legislators removed time limits for sexual assaults on children. To make matters more complicated, that law “unambiguously applies” to crimes that occurred since 2017, but not “retroactively to older crimes”.
Bedi said prosecutors still have the option to charge Kelly under a 20-year window if a minor was assaulted in the late 1990s.
Kelly’s 2008 acquittal shocked legal observers and there is a chance that the trial team may use comparable strategies in the future.