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R. Kelly’s Lawyers File for Trial Delay, Granted by Judge

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R. Kelly’s lawyer Deveraux Cannick petitioned U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly in a letter for more time to prepare their defense.

What We Know:

  • Robert Sylvester Kelly, better known under his artist name R. Kelly, is being tried in a federal court in Brooklyn for leading an enterprise of managers, bodyguards, and other employees who helped recruit women and girls for him to have sex with. He switched legal teams on June 21, which did not give counsel adequate time to prepare. Cannick and other members of his team have been unable to meet with Kelly as he was transferred from a facility in Chicago to Brooklyn and required to undergo a two-week quarantine. In his appeal to the court, Cannick said, “Robert (R. Kelly) is anxious to have his day in court; however, not at the expense of his Sixth Amendment rights.”
  • Cannick also requested that Kelly be released on bail in order to assist the defense better. The concern was, after receiving the extension, they would be forced to jockey for limited conference room space and be forced to meet with Kelly at open tables alongside other inmates. Cannick wrote, “The nature of the evidence here does not lend itself to open frank discussions in such an environment.” Donnelly denied this request but granted the extension, assuring Cannick that they could visit Kelly in jail as much as they desired.
  • Grammy-award winner, multiplatinum recording artist, and R&B singer are just some of the accolades Kelly possessed prior to the charges that unfolded against him in 2019. In 1996, he won multiple Grammy’s for his song “I Believe I Can Fly” and would go on to release 22 chapters of “Trapped in the Closet,” which became a cult classic.
  • For decades complaints and allegations of his sexual behavior followed his career. In 2002, he was charged in a child pornography case in Chicago but was acquitted in 2006. It was not until the Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly was released during the #MeToo movement that Kelly began to be charged with misconduct. This case is just one of many surrounding Kelly. He faces other sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota. He is pleading not guilty to all charges and has continued to deny abusing anyone.

Jury selection for Kelly’s case will still be held on August 9, but opening statements will be postponed to August 18 in order for counsel to meet with Kelly.

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Crime

Classes canceled at Howard University as US Government investigates ransomware cyberattack

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Howard University officials along with leading cyber experts are trying to assess what has been compromised in an active ransomware, cyberattack on the HBCU campus. Officials have deemed the attack criminal.

What We Know:

  • Monday, the university issued a statement to faculty and students that “the service disruption was caused by a ransomware cyberattack against the university.”
  • Classes have been canceled for Tuesday and Wednesday. Students have been notified that online and hybrid classes will remain canceled and only essential staff will be allowed on campus. All in-person undergraduate, graduate, professional, and clinical experiential courses will resume as scheduled on Wednesday.
  • A ransomware attack can be triggered by simple, everyday activity. Opening a unintended link inside of can lead to a cyberattack.  Computer, tablet and phone users are encouraged to change their passwords and security questions regularly.

Howard University is home to several notable high profile Black alumni such as Chadwick Boseman and Phylicia Rashad.

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Crime

New Orleans 911 Operator Wanted After Allegedly Disconnecting Calls on Purpose

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A New Orleans 911 operator deliberately disconnected emergency calls without obtaining necessary information or relaying the callers’ emergencies to other dispatchers, and she is now facing arrest, according to authorities.

What We Know:

  • Precious Stephens, 25, is wanted on a count of malfeasance in office, and she remained at large Thursday, police said. She has been fired from her job as a 911 operator, officials said.

“(The district) has and will continue to cooperate with the … investigation into this matter and dedicated to providing any and all assistance to aid in (the) efforts.”

  • Stephens worked for the Orleans Parish Communication District, which dispatches first responders to 911 calls. On Aug. 24, the district reported to police that Stephens had deliberately disconnected 911 calls without obtaining vital information or informing other dispatchers about the callers who were in need of help.  The district conducted an investigation into the quality of a random set of calls when they detected the problems with Stephens during her shifts Aug. 20 and Aug. 21, officials said.  A statement from the district highlighted how its own internal protocols identified the issues with Stephens, who was immediately turned over to police and dismissed from her post.

Police asked anyone who knows where Stephens is to call Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111. Tipsters may be eligible for a cash reward.

Louisiana law defines malfeasance in office as unlawfully performing a job in public service. It can carry up to five years in prison.

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Crime

R&B Star R. Kelly Jurors Summoned for Sex Trafficking Trial

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The first phase of R. Kelly‘s trial began on Aug. 9 with a jury selection after several delays.

What We Know:

  • U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly asked potential jurors if they could keep an open mind about Kelly as he faces charges for abusing women and girls for nearly two decades. Donnelly also reminded jurors that Kelly was presumed innocent, so they should not feel influenced by any bad publicity the singer experienced because of the accusations.
  • Due to pandemic restrictions, the event took place online. Because of this, Kelly and the jurors faced difficulty popping up on the screen and the audio cut off at times.
  • During the trial, jurors will expect to hear testimonies from several of Kelly’s accusers. In addition, a judge ruled that officials may only use the women’s first names. Currently, Kelly faces sex trafficking charges. Scrutiny around Kelly’s sexual behavior has followed him for decades. These include charges for child pornography. Alongside the sex-trafficking case in New York, Kelly also faces sex-related charges against him in Illinois and Minnesota.
  • In addition, prosecutors might provide evidence that Kelly schemed with others to buy a fake ID for late R&B singer Aaliyah. In 1994, when Aaliyah was only 15, Kelly married and began a sexual relationship with her; it is also speculated he impregnated her. Prosecutors believe he married her so that she could not testify against him.
  • In regards to his sex-trafficking trial, Kelly denies any wrongdoing; he has pleaded not guilty to leading a criminal enterprise of managers, bodyguards, and other employees who recruited women and girls for sex. Concerning the criminal enterprise, federal prosecutors reported the group found victims at concerts and other venues. After recruiting the women and children, they would make travel arrangements so they could meet with Kelly. Kelly’s lawyers claimed the victims were “groupies” who showed up at his concerts and “were dying to be with” Kelly.

The case is scheduled to officially begin on Aug. 18 with opening statements.

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