The ‘Ignition’ hitmaker was originally supposed to stand trial in Chicago on child pornography and other issues in April this year, but it was delayed until October due to the coronavirus pandemic, before being pushed back once again.
And on Tuesday (22.12.20), a federal judge admitted concerns about the global health crisis had further disrupted the case and now the trial will begin on 13 September, 2021.
However, during a hearing conducted by phone, U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber said the new date could still be subject to change.
Prosecutors told the judge that once a trial does get underway, it will take them around three weeks to present their evidence.
The 53-year-old singer – who has previously pleaded not guilty to federal charges relating to having sex with underage girls and allegedly bribing potential witnesses at his 2008 trial to change their stories – has been in jail since he was arrested in July 2019.
He is also facing sex trafficking and racketeering charges in New York, for which he is due to stand trial on 7 April, and state charges in both Illinois and Minnesota.
It was previously ruled the jurors in the the New York trial will be anonymous.
US District Judge Ann Donnelly wrote in her ruling: “The government has established that empaneling an anonymous and partially sequestered jury is warranted.”
The judge declared that marshals will escort jurors in and out of the Brooklyn federal courthouse each day and sequester them during all breaks to protect them from outside influence, although they will still be able to go home at the end of the day.
Donnelly made her decision based on the allegations in Kelly’s indictment that accuse the shamed singer of heading up a criminal enterprise for 24 years designed “to promote the defendant’s music, to recruit women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with the defendant and to produce child pornography”.
The decision was also influenced by Kelly’s handling of his Chicago case, where he allegedly silenced witnesses through bribes, blackmail and threats.
Donnelly is also said to be worried about the singer’s public profile, and the potential for social media to become “a tool for the harassment and intimidation of the jurors should their identities be made public”.
The ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ singer has made several bids to be released from jail pending trial, citing concerns about coronavirus spreading in the facility where he is currently being held, amongst other reasons, but has had them all rejected.