Last week, embattled R&B singer R. Kelly was freed from a Cook County jail. As The Inquisitr previously shared, Kelly was released following the back-payment of over $160,000 in child support that he owed his ex-wife, Andrea “Drea” Kelly. The anonymous donor, who paid off Kelly’s debt, has remained a mystery in the days following Kelly’s exit from jail. Now, The Chicago Tribune has revealed how keeping the benefactor’s identity under wraps is possible, and how Kelly is able to keep his private family matter out of the public eye.
According to a 2013 investigation by The Chicago Tribune, Kelly’s case is one in a long line of Chicago-based legal matters that have been protected under a seal from the public — one that has been afforded to the wealthy, those involved in high-profile cases, and folks who are deemed as “legal savvy.”
Caitlin Vogus, a staff attorney for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, shared that the “secrecy” involved in these cases can alter the public’s trust of the court system, and that is especially so for high-profile cases, such as Kelly’s.
“If you can’t see what’s going on, you can’t see that proper procedure is being followed, that judges are being fair. All of that is revealed when the public can kind of monitor and see what’s going on in these cases, and that’s definitely true in divorce cases as well,” Vogus shared.
Vogus further stated that the typical documents available to the public — even in divorce proceedings that are sealed for protective purposes — will show a sealing order if the presiding judge deems the case sensitive. That sealing order can usually be found in the record, but in Kelly’s case, no such order is available for viewing when doing a search on the circuit court clerk’s online database. In fact, no record of the case can be found in the database at all.
“When the whole case is under seal, including the motions to seal and the court’s order … that’s very troubling,” Vogus added.
As the documents are under seal, there’s no way for the public to tell why the judge deemed this case, in particular, of a sensitive nature — at least enough for it to be shrouded in complete mystery. Eric France, one of Drea Kelly’s managers, said that Kelly should have to face “public scrutiny” just like everyone else. France also said that Drea is upset over the whole ordeal and doesn’t understand how her ex-husband is “above the law.”
Kelly spent three nights in jail after a Cook County judge ordered him to remain behind bars — in a closed-door hearing — until the remaining balance of his child support had been paid. After the anonymous donor stepped in to cover Kelly’s expenses, the “I Believe I Can Fly Singer” exited the jail and told his fans that he planned to “straighten this all out.”