Judge to consider allowing cameras at R. Kelly’s court hearings

Judge to consider allowing cameras at R. Kelly’s court hearings
CHICAGO—The news media are seeking to allow cameras in a Cook County courtroom for hearings in the sex abuse charges facing R&B superstar R. Kelly.

But the sensitive nature of the charges raises questions that the usual criminal trial doesn’t, and at least one alleged victim has formally objected to being filmed should she appear in court.

R. Kelly arrives at the Daley Center in Chicago to attend a closed-door hearing in a court fight with his ex-wife over child support on Wednesday.  (Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune / TNS)

Typically, however, media organizations, including the Chicago Tribune, do not seek to publicly identify victims of sex abuse.

Judge Lawrence Flood, who is presiding over Kelly’s case, will take up the issue at a hearing Friday at the Leighton Criminal Court Building. The singer is not expected to attend.

The use of cameras in Cook County courtrooms dates to 2015, but judges have wide latitude in whether to allow the cameras or set limits on what they can show.

The news media are seeking to allow cameras in the courtroom over the many months of proceedings as Kelly moves toward trial — and then the trial itself.

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Judges have allowed several recent high-profile cases to be video-recorded, including trials last year in the slayings of Laquan McDonald and Hadiya Pendleton.

Flood could choose to bar any video or photos of Kelly’s accusers, but that might not be an issue until trial. In the meantime, the bulk of the case will likely be taken up by routine status hearings involving the lawyers and Kelly.

Kelly, who has been dogged for years by allegations or predatory sexual behaviour, was indicted last month on 10 counts alleging he sexually abused three underage girls and a woman.

Kelly, who has vehemently denied the charges, is due back in court next week.

One alleged Kelly victim, identified in court documents only as H.W., objected to being filmed in court.

“Being that he was found innocent before, I have no interest in being a media spectacle,” she wrote in a filing made public.

Prosecutors have said Kelly met H.W. in the late 1990s at a restaurant as she was celebrating her 16th birthday. The charges allege he had sexual encounters with the underage girl about once a month for about a year.

H.W. wrote that the cameras would “trigger me” and alleged that Kelly’s legal team has already “attempted to publicly shame” some of his accusers.
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