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Cook County Attorney Kim Foxx said this week that her office is dropping multiple sexual assault charges against R&B singer R. Kelly, saying he already faces a harsh sentence in federal court.
Foxx said that since Kelly will likely serve “extensive sentences” in prison, her office should focus on other abuse cases. A judge dismissed the case on Tuesday, after Foxx announced the move.
But Jerhunda Pace, one of Kelly’s victims who testified as part of a successful federal case against him in New York and was also part of the Cook County case, says she is disappointed by Foxx’s decision — in part because Kelly is still fighting to appeal against his decision. federal convictions.
Foxx noted that a federal court in Brooklyn, NY, sentenced Kelly to 30 years in prison last June. She added that Kelly faces 10 to 90 years in prison pending sentencing after being convicted in an Illinois federal court last September.
Foxx acknowledged that her decision to drop the case would disappoint the four prosecutors who stepped forward to rule against 56-year-old Kelly.
“I understand how difficult it was for these victims to come forward and tell their story,” Foxx said, praising the women for their bravery.
Through her attorney, David Fish, Pace told NPR she is disappointed and concerned about the potential effects dropping the case could have on other abusers and victims:
“While I understand that Kelly has been convicted in federal court (based largely on the testimony of our brave client Jerhonda’s Pace and the evidence we have retained with R Kelly’s DNA), his federal cases are being appealed and, if overturned , R. Kelly could get out of jail.” This isn’t just a theoretical concern: we’ve all seen Bill Cosby recently win on appeal and do comedy tours again.
“The Cook State Attorney should have continued the case until the appeal was made. Or he should have sought an agreement whereby R. Kelly agreed not to appeal his federal convictions in exchange for the charges being dropped in Cook County. The state attorney’s decision to simply dump the case leaves the community vulnerable to this dangerous man if he wins his appeal.”
Fish also questioned Foxx’s timing, saying the prosecutor’s office notified Pace of the decision to drop the case in November. “It is unclear to us why it has waited so long to publicly announce the decision.”
The first formal charges against Kelly arose in 2002
Chicago is Kelly’s hometown – and it’s been the center of decades of allegations and litigation against the singer, who was born Robert Sylvester Kelly.
Some allegations date back to 1994 when Kelly, then 27, married Aaliyah, who was 15 at the time. video footage showing the singer “having sex and engaging in a variety of lewd acts with an underage girl,” as NPR reported.
Those allegations did not lead to a conviction. But in 2019, the Cook County Attorney’s Office filed a new set of charges, including counts of aggravated criminal assault and aggravated criminal sexual assault. Months later, the federal cases in Illinois and Brooklyn came to light.
“While this may not be the result they expected, because of the punishments that await Mr. Kelly, we feel justice has been served,” Foxx said. “My office will use our resources to find justice for other victims of sexual abuse who don’t have the power of a documentary to expose their abusers.”
The documentary Foxx was referring to is Survive R. Kelly, the six-part series that aired on Lifetime in 2019, which revealed new claims of abuse and statutory rape against the singer. The series prompted more women to speak out, leading to the new charges against Kelly.
Kelly will be sentenced on Feb. 23 in the Illinois federal case. He also faces criminal charges in Minnesota, where he is charged with prostitution with a minor.