Lawyers for disgraced R&B superstar R Kelly asked a judge to dismiss numerous criminal charges against the singer Monday, just as jury selection in his sex trafficking trial began.
His legal team argued that charges — including bribing a Chicago clerk to allow Kelly to marry singer Aaliyah though she was underage — should be dropped because the statute of limitations had passed.
They also argued that the allegation Kelly, 54, knowingly transmitted herpes to some of his other victims is illegitimate because the law “does not apply to herpes.” They claim it applies more specifically to gonorrhea and syphilis.
“To allow the government to move forward with those counts would be to allow a clear mischaracterization and interpretation of the application of the statute, considering the statute clearly does not incorporate herpes,” Kelly’s lawyer, Thomas Farinella, wrote.
The judge in the case, Ann Donnelly, asked the feds to respond to the motion to dismiss this week.
The last-ditch effort to get charges tossed in the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer’s case came as lawyers on both sides began questioning potential jurors in Brooklyn Federal Court.
Kelly stands accused of running a racketeering enterprise that trafficked women and girls across state lines. He allegedly had sex with numerous minors and made child pornography, prosecutors say. He also forced his victims to call him “Daddy,” and did not allow them to eat or leave rooms without his permission, the feds will argue.
Prospective jurors, who will remain anonymous even to the judge and lawyers, came into the courtroom alone throughout the day. They were asked questions by the judge about their ability to be impartial, their knowledge of the case and their experiences with sexual assault.
One possible juror confused R Kelly with the famous cartoonist, R Crumb. Another was excused from serving on the jury after he said he could not be impartial in a case involving sexual relations between people of the same sex. R Kelly is accused of abusing underage boys, as well as girls and women.