After a judge ruled against R. Kelly by default in a sex abuse lawsuit last week, the singer’s lawyers are reportedly fighting the decision by claiming that Kelly never responded to the suit because he wasn’t able to read it.
A judge ruled Tuesday in favor of Kelly’s accuser, a woman who said she met Kelly as a teen and he began a year-long sexual relationship with her when she was underage. Kelly and his civil litigation attorney failed to show up to multiple hearings, with lawyers for the plaintiff claiming that Kelly also ignored multiple summons, which led the judge to rule against Kelly by default, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
However, Kelly’s legal team seems to be fighting back. His attorneys, Zaid Abdallah and Raed Shalabi, have reportedly filed legal documents criticizing the fact that Kelly was served in the case while he was in jail for an unrelated issue, and claiming that he didn’t respond to the suit because he literally couldn’t read it, TMZ reports.
The singer’s lawyers said that Kelly “suffers from a learning disability that adversely affects his ability to read,” and that “in essence he cannot,” according to the outlet. They reportedly also challenged claims from the accuser’s lawyers that rigid security made it impossible to serve Kelly at his home in the Trump Towers, and said that Kelly’s legal representation in the criminal case could have been served instead.
Kelly’s civil attorney, Brian Nix, also defended Kelly, telling TMZ on Friday that his client could not respond to the suit because he was “overwhelmed.”
“R. Kelly was served while incarcerated on the child support case and he was overwhelmed by the experience of being in jail,” he said.
The 52-year-old singer is currently facing 10 counts of aggravated criminal sex abuse for allegedly victimizing one woman and three girls. He has continuously denied the claims against him and has pleaded not guilty in the case. He was jailed briefly in February before a friend posted bail for him, but Kelly was behind bars for a second time the following month after failing to pay the full amount of child support he owed to his ex-wife. He was released after an anonymous donor paid his debt in full.
Nix said that the stress of being in jail, “coupled with Mr. Kelly not being cognizant of what the motion fully meant led to him missing the hearing. I had no idea he had been served,” according to TMZ.
A lawyer for Kelly’s accuser, who has since been identified as 36-year-old Heather Williams, isn’t believing the singer’s story, the New York Daily News reports.
“I don’t buy that. This guy knows what’s going on. He was served. His people know what’s happening,” attorney Jeffrey Deutschman told the paper. He added that he and his client are “not afraid to move forward and fight.”
“He wants to go to trial, good. We’ll see what a jury does,” he said. “One way or another, I’m going to get a judgment.”
The judge has not yet awarded any damages in the case, and will instead hear the plaintiff’s story in full before doing so, the Chicago Sun-Times previously reported. A damages hearing is scheduled for May 8, but Nix is trying to have the previous judgment thrown out, according to the Daily News.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.