WASHINGTON — As jurors started deliberating the fate of R. Kelly, a Detroit sheriff and his lawyers were in Washington, where he sued the R&B superstar for humiliating him with an on-air sexual innuendo broadcast in 2002.
Troy Combs’ claim that Kelly slept with multiple women and toured with R&B singer James Augustine without paying him less than $50,000 of the $1.1 million advance he had negotiated was settled in 2011 for an undisclosed amount of money. The story of the criminal complaint became public in late 2017 after WDIV-TV in Detroit reported it with a former colleague of Combs’ who worked at NBC-TV in Washington.
Combs told a gathering of reporters in November that he had misplayed with Kelly and was waiting for an opportunity to “put on his best attorney.”
On Friday, the jurors began deliberating Kelly’s fate over charges that he sexually abused a girl who was 14 when the two met when she performed at a party. Five other women have accused Kelly of abusing them. Kelly denies the allegations.
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Alicia Reese as Anchor D.C. Magazine at Network President’s dinner, O’Donnell, Crewzzy and Lamborn speak onstage during Network President’s 2018–2019 Party at National Press Club on January 21, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images for Network President)
“The job of any prosecutor is to present evidence that puts the defendant in their worst light possible,” Kelli Barber, spokeswoman for the Washington D.C.’s U.S. Attorney’s Office, said in an email to the Washington Post.
“But that doesn’t mean that they’re overly focused on him.”
Kelly denies all the charges. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.
Three-time Grammy-nominated Kelly has been charged in Kelly’s hometown of Chicago with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse, the most serious charge against him, in a high-profile trial that has raised questions about the media’s treatment of sexual assault victims. He has been tried and acquitted twice before in similar sex cases involving women.
The latest trial, in which Kelly faces trial for the second time, has been delayed twice because of scheduling conflicts. The federal case lasted about four weeks. It centers on an allegation by a woman who told police in 2013 that Kelly pressured her into sex and held her against her will.
The woman, who was 17 at the time, met Kelly after seeing him perform in Detroit. Kelly agreed to open for her at a wedding in Florida, where she said he kept her as a virtual prisoner.