R. Kelly may have just traded the closet for the great state of Illinois. Either way, he could be trapped. The rapper managed to avoid arrest Thursday morning by appearing, at last, in a Chicago courtroom for a hearing in his long-pending child-pornography case. But his good fortune–and travel privileges–may end there.
Patience-tried Cook County Criminal Court Judge Vincent Gaughan said he was “very disappointed” about Kelly’s Wednesday no-show, not just because of its lack of respect toward the court but because the rapper had specifically requested his hearing be moved to that date for “financial reasons.”
He further told the 40-year-old R&B star, who is currently in the midst of a 45-city tour, that the court will be reviewing the terms of Kelly’s bond and decide on Friday whether it should be revoked or whether to bar the “I Believe I Can Fly” star from traveling outside the state, effectively putting the kibosh on the remainder of his tour.
Gaughan is also expected to set a start date for Kelly’s trial on Friday, a date nearly six years in the making. After endless delays and pretrial motions from the defense, proceedings were expected to kick off on Sept. 17, but were–at least until now–indefinitely pushed back.
Kelly’s Thursday appearance came a day after Gaughan threatened to activate a bench warrant for the singer’s arrest should he not appear in court by 9 a.m. The warning was issued at the urging of state prosecutors, who called his MIA status not only “disrespectful” but an “abuse of the process.”
Kelly’s attorney, Ed Genson, told the judge his client had every intention of making it to the court on Wednesday, but circumstances beyond his control–namely inclement weather and Utah’s finest–prevented him from making it on time.
Per Genson, Kelly was en route to Chicago from a tour stop in Sacramento, only to have the bus trip delayed by snowy weather. On Tuesday morning, shortly after the four-bus caravan was able to get back on the road, they were pulled over for speeding by the Utah Highway Patrol, at which time officers also found the drivers hadn’t taken mandatory rest time.
The buses were due to be put out of service for eight hours, but thanks to some legal finagling, were able to get back on the road after no more than four hours of idling.
While the buses were parked, Kelly was free to go. Yet, he opted to remain with his tour crew.
In 2002, Kelly was charged with child pornography after being accused of videotaping himself having sex with an underage girl, who prosecutors say may have been as young as 13 years old at the time. He denies the charges, but could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.