Cook County judge delays R. Kelly child porn trial

By The Associated Press

CHICAGO- A Cook County judge postponed – yet again – the trial of Chicago singer R. Kelly.

The 40-year-old R&B; superstar was set to go to trial Sept. 17 on child pornography charges, but Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan delayed the start date because the lead prosecutor, Assistant State’s Attorney Shauna Boliker, recently had a baby.

“Under doctor’s orders the lead prosecutor, who has recently given birth, is not able to proceed at this time,” prosecution spokesman Terry Sullivan said in an e-mail.

A new start date has not been set, Sullivan said.

Kelly was arrested in 2002 and has pleaded not guilty to 14 counts of child pornography in charges stemming from a video that allegedly shows him engaging in sex acts with a 13-year-old girl.

But Kelly’s trial has been delayed numerous times since then by a variety of sometimes bizarre events. Gaughan seemed close to setting a trial date last year, but was hospitalized after falling off a ladder and suffering multiple fractures. By the time Gaughan 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 newspaper executive Conrad Black in a lengthy trial that ended in July with Black’s conviction of mail fraud and obstruction of justice.

“I can’t think of (a case) in recent history that’s been like this. The number of years since it’s started is so unusual,” said Chicago lawyer Michael Helfand, who has no links to the case.

“Is justice going to be denied? No. I bet the same result is going to happen if this happens now as in 2004,” Helfand said.

In the meantime, Kelly’s career shows no signs of slowing down. Since being charged, he has had six best-selling albums, three nationwide tours and a slew of hits and awards.

A spokesman for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office declined to comment on the latest delay, citing a gag order issued by the judge. Kelly spokesman Allan Mayer declined to comment for the same reason.

Kelly – born Robert Sylvester Kelly – is next scheduled to appear in court Sept. 10 for a status hearing.