Artist News Legal

R Kelly loses civil assault case by default after failing to appoint new legal team

By | Published on Thursday 27 February 2020

R Kelly

A woman who sued R Kelly over allegations of sexual abuse has been awarded a default judgement in her favour, after the musician failed to meet a deadline to appoint new legal representation. His former attorneys in the case withdrew last month, saying they felt “that circumstances have evolved that prevent the counsels from zealously advocating on behalf of the defendant”.

The case was filed against Kelly last year by Heather Williams. She says that she met the singer in 1998 when she was sixteen and initially agreed to spend time with him at his studio because he promised to put her in a music video. Instead, she says, they then began a sexual relationship which she now views as abusive.

The judge already made a default judgement in Williams’ favour last April after Kelly failed to respond to her complaint. However, his attorneys then successfully argued that the case should be reopened. The reason Kelly had not responded, they said, was that his illiteracy meant that he could not read the summons he had been sent, so he did not know that there was a civil case against him.

The lawyers then attempted to get the case dismissed on the grounds that the statute of limitations had expired. The judge denied this request, saying that it was reasonable for Williams to argue that, as a minor at the time, she had not realised that the relationship was abusive until years later.

Then last month, attorneys Zaid Abdallah, Shady Yassin and Raed Shalabi filed a motion to cease representing Kelly, saying that they no longer felt able to. This was granted and Kelly was given 21 days to appoint new attorneys. That deadline passed this week and, it having not been met, the judge ruled in Williams’ favour by default (again).

Kelly is currently in prison awaiting trials on criminal charges relating to sexual abuse in Chicago, New York and Minnesota. He also faces a number of civil cases on other matters, including unpaid child support and attempts to evict him from his Chicago recording studio – a second lawsuit on that latter case was filed by his landlord last week, claiming that Kelly now owes $3.4 million for unpaid rent and damage to the building.

It is likely that Kelly will be ordered to pay financial damages to Williams. A final hearing on the litigation is now set for 10 Mar.