CHICAGO — R&B singer R. Kelly’s legal team on Friday asked a court to delay ruling on a request to allow the artist to travel to the United Arab Emirates for a series of performances next month he agreed to before his arrest.
Steve Greenberg, Kelly’s lead attorney in his criminal sex-abuse case, said he still thinks it’s possible that Kelly can travel to Dubai in April, but he said he wants to provide Judge Lawrence Flood more information before he decides on the matter.
“I think there are more details that needed to be filled in, I think, to give the judge a certain comfort level,” Greenberg said after a brief hearing in Kelly’s case. “We’ll get that information to him hopefully by April 15.”
That’s cutting it close since the performances are set for April 17-19. However, Kelly could still make it since he plans to travel by private jet and U.S. citizens can get a visa upon landing in Dubai.
While there, Kelly is supposed to meet with Dubai’s “royal family.” The emirate is ruled by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. The nation is known for its high-end shopping, stunning skyscrapers and luxury night clubs.
Greenberg filed a motion earlier this week requesting leeway in Kelly’s bond terms because the singer has received dozens of requests to perform in the U.S. and overseas. He said that Kelly and his team are sorting through those requests.
“There’s a lot of interest,” Greenberg told the judge. “There’s hundreds of offers for him to come play.”
Under the terms of his $1 million bond following his February indictment on criminal sex-abuse charges, Kelly was ordered to remain in Illinois and surrender his passport.
But the 52-year-old contends his reputation at home has been tarnished by his legal struggles – namely the 10-count indictment accusing him of sexually abusing three minor girls and a woman. As a result, he says he can’t keep up with child support responsibilities and mounting legal fees unless he’s permitted to travel overseas to play paying gigs.
Child support: R. Kelly released from jail; lawyer of sex abuse accusers claims more evidence in case
U.A.E.: R. Kelly’s Dubai trip highlights the destination’s status as a celebrity safe haven
While the U.A.E. and the U.S. don’t have an extradition treaty, Greenberg said he has no concern that Kelly will jump bond and flee from the U.S. to avoid trial. He cited Kelly’s previous compliance during his 2008 trial on 14 counts of child pornography, a case that took six years to wind its way through the Chicago-area court system.
“He traveled all over the world (then)” Greenberg said. “He came back every time. He never missed a court date, never was late for a court date in six years.”
Greenberg also told the judge that Kelly remains in difficult financial straits even with all the reported interest in hiring him to perform.
“Cases take resources, he owes child support, he’s some civil cases he has to address,” Greenberg said. “He hasn’t been offered enough (work), I can tell you that.”
“Kelly’s financial situation, which Greenberg described as “a mess” even before the broadcast of Lifetime’s “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary series and his indictment, got progressively worse afterward.
After falling more than $161,000 behind on child support, he was jailed for three days until a supporter paid the balance. He has also lost publishing revenue after streaming services have removed his songs, and his record company, RCA/Sony, has canceled his recording contract following the 10-count indictment.
In an interview earlier this month, Kelly told “CBS This Morning” anchor Gayle King that people with access to his account “have been stealing my money” and that he had learned he had $350,000 in the bank in the weeks before his arrest.
Travel restrictions and finances were not the only topics discussed at Kelly’s hearing.
Greenberg also criticized prosecutors for delaying turning over some evidence in its possession. Prosecutors told the judge that they wanted a court order that stipulates rules about viewing some video evidence, described as tantamount to child pornography, to ensure it would not be made public.
“They apparently don’t trust me, that I’m going to mass produce this video or something,” Greenberg said. “There are rules on discovery in Illinois.”
After they emerged from the courtroom, Kelly’s publicist, Darrell Johnson, commented on the singer’s emotional state.
While he said Kelly was initially depressed after being charged, he has since begun paying more attention to things he loves, such as basketball and songwriting.
Johnson said Kelly, who has some 300 songs in his archives, continues to work on new material, telling reporters, “He’s making music every single day.”
R. Kelly: Tracking his career of alleged sexual misconduct