R. Kelly lost a civil case this week when he failed to appear in court to contest charges that he sexually abused a girl when she was 16, and now the singer is telling the court that he never knew he was served legal papers — because he doesn’t know how to read.
As TMZ reported, the singer told a court that a severe learning disability prevented him from reading court documents that instructed him to appear in court to face allegations from a woman named Heather Williams. When Kelly did not show up to the court appearance, the court awarded her a default judgment.
In the aftermath of the judgment against the embattled singer, his lawyers Zaid Abdallah and Raed Shalabi have appealed to the court to say that the singer had no idea he was supposed to be in court because of his inability to read.
“[Kelly] suffers from a learning disability that adversely affects his ability to read. In essence he cannot,” the legal documents said.
The singer was indicted in February on 10 counts of sexual abuse for cases involving four women, with the allegations spanning from 1998 to 2010. As CNN reported, he faces up to 70 years in prison if convicted.
Kelly has denied the charges, and lawyer Steve Greenberg said that all of the women are lying. Greenberg added that he believed Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx had only charged the singer due to the public pressure in the wake of the Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly, which documented the decades of sexual misconduct allegations against him.
“Mr. Kelly is strong, he’s got a lot of support and he’s going to be vindicated on all these charges — one by one if it has to be,” Greenberg said.
There could still be more trouble ahead for R. Kelly, as producers announced plans for a follow-up installation of Surviving R. Kelly that examines how the original three-part series that aired earlier this year has affected national conversations about sexual abuse. In the wake of the documentary, there was a surge in interest regarding the allegations, prompting victims to come forward and police investigations to ramp up.
So excited to be hosting this amazing follow-up special. Be sure to tune in. https://t.co/TTdpJKlZ7s— Soledad O'Brien (@soledadobrien) April 26, 2019
In the most recent civil case from Heather Williams, R. Kelly’s lawyers have also argued to the court that he should not have been served papers because he was incarcerated in the Cook County Jail at the time for failure to pay child support.