R. Kelly missed sex abuse court hearing because he can’t read: Lawyers

R. Kelly failed to appear for court proceedings in a sex abuse lawsuit because he can’t read, according to the singer’s new legal team.

Days after an Illinois judge issued a default judgment against Kelly, 52, for failing to respond to the lawsuit, his lawyers asked the courts to reverse the ruling. Kelly was served in early March, while being housed at Cook County Jail for nonpayment of child support to his ex-wife, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“The defendant does not recall being served,” Kelly’s attorneys, Raed Shalabi and Zaid Abdallah, said in an April 26 court filing. “The Defendant suffers from a learning disability that adversely affects his ability to read, in essence he cannot.”

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According to the Chicago Tribune, the lawsuit was filed by a woman who claimed Kelly sexually abused her as an underage girl in the late 1990s. Identified as “H.W.” in court documents, prosecutors said she was celebrating her 16th birthday when Kelly’s manager reportedly gave the girl Kelly’s card, leading the pair to have sexual contact once a month.

In her suit, H.W. claimed Kelly drove up to her to talk as she walked outside before one of his associates approached her inside a restaurant. The associate allegedly then said Kelly wanted to speak with her and invited her to Kelly’s studio. From there, H.W. and Kelly had multiple sexual encounters where Kelly “represented to (H.W.) that this behavior was appropriate,” the suit stated.

H.W. sued Kelly, alleging the abuse caused emotional distress in addition to “great shame, guilt, self-blame, confusion, [and] depression,” according to the Tribune.

The sex abuse lawsuit emerged as Kelly faces 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four women—three of whom were underage at the time.

His attorneys claimed Kelly only learned of the default judgment through his criminal defense attorney, who obtained the news from multiple media outlets. However, Kelly’s publicist, Darrell Johnson, previously told the Chicago Sun-Times that the singer’s camp knew about the pending litigation.

“We don’t care about the lawsuit,” Johnson said on April 24. “The lawsuit means nothing to us.”

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[Featured image: R. Kelly/AP Photo/Matt Marton]