‘Operational issue’ at court delays R. Kelly trial


CHICAGO — An “operational issue” has prompted the temporary closure of Chicago’s federal courthouse on Tuesday, pausing in-person courthouse proceedings, including R. Kelly’s child pornography and obstruction of justice trial, the court announced Monday night.

An alert posted Monday night to the Northern District of Illinois’ website read: “The Dirksen Courthouse will be closed on Tuesday, September 6th due to an operational issue at the Courthouse. The Courthouse will be closed, and jury trials will be suspended for one day.”

Kelly’s trial — entering its fourth week — was set to resume at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Jurors were last in court on Thursday, when they heard the first witnesses called by Kelly and his two co-defendants. That same day, Kelly told U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber that he would not testify in his own defense.

Leinweber opted to give the jury Friday off, in addition to Monday’s Labor Day holiday.

The trial has featured testimony from several women who said they repeatedly engaged in sex acts with Kelly when they were minors. Among those witnesses was “Jane,” Kelly’s former “goddaughter,” who testified that she was the teen girl seen in the tape at the center of Kelly’s 2008 child pornography trial.

Last month, prosecutors played for jurors 17 video clips that, they allege, show Kelly engaging in sex acts with “Jane” while she was a minor. Court staff took extensive measures to ensure the footage was not seen by anyone aside from the judge, attorneys and jury, though the clips’ audio was played throughout the courtroom.

A federal grand jury in Chicago indicted Kelly, 55, on 13 counts in July 2019, accusing him of producing and receiving child pornography, while also enticing minors to engage in illegal sexual activity. Earlier this year, Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison by a federal judge in Brooklyn after he was found guilty of racketeering.

Kelly’s former business manager Derrel McDavid and his former assistant Milton “June” Brown are charged along with the disgraced R&B superstar. They are charged with one count of conspiracy to receive child pornography. McDavid also faces two counts of receiving child pornography and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice related to Kelly’s 2008 child pornography trial in Cook County.

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