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R. Kelly's Attorneys Attempt To Block Testimony About His Herpes Status From New York Trial

His attorneys have argued that the women who claim the singer gave them the sexually transmitted disease are not medical experts.

By Jill Sederstrom

R. Kelly’s lawyers are hoping to keep testimony about his alleged herpes infection out of trial by arguing that the women who claim the singer gave them the sexually transmitted disease are not medical experts.

Prosecutors plan to use testimony from multiple alleged victims to show that Kelly was intentionally spreading the human alpha herpes virus—also known as herpes simplex—to multiple victims over years, according to Law & Crime.

Prosecutors have argued that Kelly was aware he that had the virus since “as early as 2003” after a victim referred to in the court documents as “Jane Doe #11” told him that she believed she had gotten the sexually transmitted disease from him. They plan to use her testimony to “prove” that he was aware of his own health status by then, even as he continued to pursue other victims.

Prosecutors have said they have evidence from six different witnesses that establish a timeline of when Kelly contracted the sexually transmitted disease.

Kelly’s defense lawyers have argued that using Jane Doe #11’s testimony to establish his alleged herpes status is an attempt to “back door evidence of whether or not Mr. Kelly did in fact have herpes by relying on a lay witnesses opinion,” according to court documents obtained by the outlet.

They argued that prosecutors also plan to use another witness, “Jane Doe #4,” to further bolster their claims by attempting to show that she got herpes from Kelly in 2009. This victim’s claim is supported by the initial testimony that he had the infection as early as 2003.

“By allowing such testimony in, by a lay person, as proof that Mr. Kelly had herpes in 2003, would be to circumvent the requirement of having an expert testify as to whether or not Mr. Kelly had herpes,” his attorney Thomas A. Farinella wrote in the letter to Judge Ann M. Donnelly.

They argue that relying on the testimony of non-expert witnesses violates two separate federal rules of evidence related to “scientific, technical, or specialized knowledge.”

The defense also hope to exclude evidence related to another victim, “Jane Doe #12,” a woman he had allegedly had a settlement agreement with. Farinella argued the evidence should not be allowed because the woman is no longer alive and “cannot authenticate any proof of entering into a settlement agreement” with Kelly. According to the defense, the evidence about settlements with Jane Doe #12 and Jane Doe #11 could “be unfairly prejudicial” because it may lead the jury to believe that Kelly had entered into the civil agreements because he was guilty of the allegations against him.

Earlier this week, Kelly’s defense attorneys asked the judge to dismiss the charges related to breaking New York law by knowingly transmitting a sexually transmitted disease by arguing that the law related to “an acute, bacterial venereal disease such as syphilis or gonorrhea,” not herpes, according to Insider.

Kelly is facing federal charges in New York of using a team of managers, bodyguards and others to help him recruit women and underage girls for sex.

Jury selection in the case concluded earlier this week with the selection of seven men and five women, according to CBS News.

He is also facing federal sex-related charges in Illinois. That trial is slated to begin after his trial in New York concludes.

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