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R. Kelly Defense Loses Bid to Exclude Jurors Who Watched ‘Surviving R. Kelly’

FILE - In this Sept. 17,
AP

R. Kelly’s second trial got underway in a courthouse in Chicago on Monday, as his defense lost a bid to exclude potential jurors who have seen the Lifetime docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly.”

Kelly was sentenced in June to 30 years in prison, after being convicted in New York last year on charges of racketeering and sex trafficking.

Jury selection began Monday morning in federal court in Chicago, where Kelly is facing numerous charges of child pornography and conspiracy to obstruct an investigation. The government alleges that Kelly coerced underage girls to have sex with him, videotaped the sex acts, and then paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to reclaim copies of the videos in an effort to thwart the investigation.

The charges relate to Kelly’s 2008 trial, in which he was acquitted after the alleged victim refused to testify. Prosecutors allege that he supplied money and gifts to the girl and her parents in order to get them to deny that she had sex with Kelly.

These events were covered at length in “Surviving R. Kelly,” which debuted in January 2019. In a motion filed on Sunday, Kelly’s defense lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, argued that any juror who had watched even a portion of the documentary series should be excluded from the trial.

“Any person who has seen the documentary would possess information about the allegations in this indictment (and unrelated allegations) that would unquestionably interfere with his/her ability to decide the case based on the evidence that is introduced at trial,” Bonjean wrote. “No one, even a well-intentioned person, would be capable of purging his brain of information obtained through the docuseries or separating information learned from the documentary that was never subject to cross-examination from testimony introduced at trial on the same subject matter.”

Bonjean noted that the documentary covered some evidence — such as Kelly’s relationship with the singer Aaliyah — that has been excluded from the trial.

Judge Harry Leinenweber denied the motion on Monday, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Bonjean said on Twitter last week that it would be difficult to find a non-biased jury.