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R Kelly defaults on lawsuit

Judge Moira S. Johnson granted the default judgement after he was absent from yet another meeting in the case on Tuesday, and it will be up for a final hearing on 10 March.

R&B singer R Kelly leaves the Leighton Criminal Courts Building following a hearing on 26 June 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Picture: AFP

LONDON - A judge has ruled R. Kelly defaulted on a civil lawsuit filed by a woman who claims he had sex with her when she was just 16 after he again failed to appear in court.

The I Believe I Can Fly hitmaker - who is currently in jail awaiting trial on charges of creating and possessing child pornography and sexual exploitation of a minor - has never appeared in court to defend himself against allegations made by plaintiff Heather Williams, who claimed she met the disgraced star in the street in Chicago and was lured into a sexual relationship after being taken to a music studio with the promise of appearing in one of his videos.

Judge Moira S. Johnson granted the default judgement after he was absent from yet another meeting in the case on Tuesday, and it will be up for a final hearing on 10 March.

The singer's attorneys filed to withdraw from representing him last month, explaining in their motion that "counsels feel that circumstances have evolved that prevent the counsels from zealously advocating on behalf of the defendant", so he'd been given 21 days to find new legal representation but no one appeared before the Chicago judge for him this week.

A default judgement was initially granted at the beginning of the case because Kelly hadn't responded to the complaint.

However, that was vacated because the singer's then-legal team argued he couldn't read the papers he was served with in jail.

Documents filed by Zaid Abdallah, Shady Yassin and Raed Shalabi at the time stated: "[Kelly] suffers from a learning disability that adversely affects his ability to read. In essence he cannot."

Kelly then filed a motion to dismiss the complaint due to the statute of limitations, but it was denied, and he ultimately opted to exercise his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in the civil case due to the criminal allegations he is facing.

Kelly is due to face trial in Chicago federal court for child sex crimes in April but his lawyer for the criminal cases, Steve Greenberg, said it is expected to be delayed after his client was hit with new charges relating to an alleged 14 or 15-year-old victim in February.

He will be arraigned on the new indictment on 5 March.

Kelly is also scheduled to face another trial in July in Brooklyn on racketeering, sex-trafficking and bribery charges.

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