Cook County judge sets Sept. 17 trial date for R. Kelly

By The Associated Press

CHICAGO – R&B; singer R. Kelly is scheduled to go on trial next month – more than five years after he was first charged with child pornography.

The judge in the case announced a Sept. 17 date for the start of a jury trial, according to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported on its Web site that the setting of a date followed a meeting Wednesday that lasted more than an hour between Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan with Kelly, his attorneys and the case’s lead prosecutor. Gaughan said the two sides have agreed on what questions potential jurors can be asked.

Kelly has pleaded not guilty to 14 counts of child pornography. He was charged in 2002 and is accused of engaging in videotaped sex acts with an underage girl.

He has said he’ll survive his legal tribulations.

“I’m going through my own struggle … and you’re either gonna fold or you’re going to stand,” he told The Associated Press in 2005, “and I believe in standing.”

Since Kelly’s arrest, the case has been hit with delay after delay. Gaughan seemed close to setting a trial date last year, but then he was hospitalized after falling off a ladder and suffering multiple fractures. By the time the judge recovered, Kelly needed emergency surgery for a burst appendix, which caused him to miss a status hearing in February.

Scheduling was further complicated by demand for Kelly’s attorney, Ed Genson. Genson, a highly sought-after attorney, represented Conrad Black in a lengthy trial that ended last month with the newspaper executive being convicted of three counts of mail fraud and one count of obstruction of justice.

In the meantime, Kelly, who won a Grammy in 1997 for “I Believe I Can Fly,” has been busy with his career. He has, since being charged, had six best-selling albums and three nationwide tours.

Kelly, who was born Robert Sylvester Kelly, was charged after a tape was leaked to the media that allegedly shows him on a videotape engaged in sex acts with a young teenager. Authorities have said the girl on the tape was as young as 13 when it was made.

Kelly’s attorneys have not conceded that he is on the tape, saying that his likeness may have been computer generated. They have also tried to raise doubts about the identity and age of the girl seen on the videotape.