Last week, R&B singer R. Kelly failed to show up to a court appearance, causing the judge to side with one of his alleged sexual abuse victims. Now, the singer’s lawyers are claiming that the signed court papers should be ruled out because of his inability to read.
Heather Williams is suing Kelly for allegedly sexually abusing her in the ’90s when she was underage and is seeking $500,000 in restitution. When Kelly and his lawyers did not respond to the lawsuit or attend the scheduled court appearance, a Chicago judge ruled in favor of Williams and if noted that if Kelly continued to be unresponsive, the judge would decide how much Kelly owes Williams in a court hearing this month. However, now Kelly and his lawyers are trying to reverse the ruling, claiming that he has been “so overwhelmed” with legal troubles lately that he doesn’t remember being served court papers for the mandatory appearance.
Additionally, TMZ reports that Kelly’s lawyers Zaid Abdallah and Raed Shalabi are arguing in a filed legal brief that the court papers should not count because Kelly “suffers from a learning disability that adversely affects his ability to read.” Abdallah and Shalabi note that because Kelly could not read or understand the served court documents, he couldn’t properly defend himself and his signature does not merit any meaning. The lawyers are asking the judge to vacate the ruling so Kelly has the chance to clear his name.
Williams is just one of the many women who have accused Kelly of sexual abuse. The singer was charged on 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse back in February, and is currently facing 40-70 years in prison. Both Kelly and his lawyer Steve Greenberg argue that he is innocent, despite the stacked evidence against him. While Kelly has been accused of sexual assault allegations for decades, they all came to light earlier this year when Lifetime released the docu-series Surviving R. Kelly, which outlined two decades-worth of allegations.
Since the release of the docu-series, multiple artists have spoken out against Kelly, his music has been pulled from various streaming platforms, and he was dropped from his record label. Through the #MuteRKelly movement, his shows in the U.S. have been cancelled, as well as gigs overseas. Amid the legal mess, Kelly’s finances have also fell apart; court documents revealed last month that the singer hit negatives in one bank account and has less than $700 in another. Nonetheless, he is still trying to book any show that he can, including a nightclub in Illinois.
A follow-up to the docu-series, titled The Impact, is set to appear on Lifetime this Saturday, May 4.