Artist News Legal

After fighting to speak in civil abuse case, R Kelly pleads the fifth

By | Published on Thursday 14 November 2019

R Kelly

R Kelly has elected to employ his fifth amendment right to avoid self-incrimination in a civil case brought against him over allegations of sexual abuse. Kelly’s lawyers are concerned that him providing testimony in the civil proceedings could end up influencing the concurrent criminal cases he is fighting in the states of New York, Illinois and Minnesota.

The musician was sued by Heather Williams in February on the same day that criminal charges were brought against him in Illinois. She claims that she met Kelly in 1998 when she was sixteen. He invited her to his studio on the promise of allowing her to appear in a music video, but instead they became involved in a sexual relationship that she now views as abusive.

In April this year, the court ruled against Kelly in a default judgement after he failed to respond to Williams’ complaint. However, that ruling was overturned after Kelly argued that he was unable to read the court papers sent to him, which was his reason for not responding. Now able to take to the stand and plead his case, Kelly has decided not to speak.

At a hearing earlier this week, the star’s legal team failed in an attempt to have the case dismissed due to the statute of limitations. Judge Moira S Johnson rejected those efforts, saying that Williams may not have known as a minor that she had been abused.

The lawyers then argued that “because of the criminal ramifications” this is not “just a civil case”. To that end, according to Courthouse News, Kelly’s team asked for the case to be put on hold pending the criminal proceedings. Or at least that their client could “plead the fifth”, ie employ his right under the US constitution to avoid being forced to incriminate himself.

Johnson approved the latter, but refused to delay the trial, saying: “I’m not staying anything. We’re getting ready for trial”. To that end, once Kelly’s attorneys have turned over documents requested by Williams’ legal team, a trial date will be set.