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R. Kelly 'refused transport' and was a no-show for court hearing, prosecutor says

Defense lawyer Steve Greenberg said that’s “not 100-percent true” but declined to fully explain why his client wasn't there.
Image: Grammy-winning R&B star R. Kelly leaves a child support hearing in Chicago
R. Kelly leaves the Cook County courthouse after a hearing in his child support case in Chicago on March 13, 2019.Kamil Krzaczynski / Reuters file

CHICAGO — Accused sex trafficker R. Kelly was a no-show in court Thursday after he “refused transport” from his federal jail cell to state court, prosecutors said.

A routine pretrial hearing, updating a judge on evidence and bail issues, went on without him, but Cook County Judge Lawrence Flood wanted to know why Kelly didn't make it court.

“The defendant was to be brought to court today. That was all worked out. The sheriffs were going to be bringing him over,” said Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Jennifer Gonzalez said.

“As I understand it, he refused transport and so that is why the defendant is not before your honor today,” Gonzales said.

Defense lawyer Steve Greenberg said that’s “not 100-percent true” but declined to fully explain why his client didn’t make out of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago.

“I don’t want to discuss matters that I discussed with the U.S. Marshals Service in open court,” Greenberg said. “Suffice it to say, the Marshal Service says that moving Mr. Kelly is a large undertaking.”

Kelly is facing federal sex-abuse charges in Illinois and New York, where he's accused of moving victims across state lines. He has pleaded not guilty to federal charges. He faces similar state court charges in Cook County, Illinois, and Hennepin County, Minnesota. He has not yet had the opportunity to enter a plea in that case.

Kelly has been the subject of sexual abuse allegations for almost two decades, some of them alleging acts as far back as 1998. He has vigorously denied the allegations.

The singer's next court date in Chicago state case is Sept. 17 and Judge Flood reminded both sides: "We'll have Mr. Kelly here then."

Samira Puskar reported from Chicago and David K. Li from New York.