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Douglas Wigdor Weighs In On R. Kelly Sexual Abuse Charges

Andrew Steinmetz / flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

On Friday, February 22, 2019, famous R&B singer R. Kelly was charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse in Cook County, IL in connection with four alleged victims, including three who were minors at the time of the alleged abuse.  The allegations have been outlined in the Lifetime documentary series Surviving R. Kelly.

Several media outlets noted that this is not the first time Kelly has faced formal sexual misconduct charges.  In 2002, a video surfaced in which Kelly appeared to engage in a sexual act with a minor.  He was charged with child pornography and the case went to trial in 2008.  Ultimately, the alleged victim was unable to testify at trial, and Kelly was acquitted of all charges.

In a statement to NBC News, sexual assault victims’ attorney and former prosecutor Douglas H. Wigdor explained why Kelly will face greater difficulty defending against the charges this time around:

“In any case where you have multiple victims, it is just infinitely more difficult for the defendant, because it’s difficult to attack woman after woman. I think given the number and the times we live in, it will be an uphill battle for him.”

On Saturday, a judge set Kelly’s bond at $1 million.  According to a report from Reuters, Kelly’s attorney Steven Greenberg engaged in the commonly-used defense tactic of attempting to discredit an accuser, noting on Saturday that it took more than 15 years for the adult accuser to come forward.  In a statement to Reuters, Mr. Wigdor explained why these aggressive defense tactics are not as effective in the current #MeToo era:

“I think people now understand that there are a host of reasons women don’t come forward immediately. The typical defense tactics, in this environment we now live in, will to many be viewed as victim shaming, and will actually hurt the defense.”

Kelly pleaded not guilty to all charges the following Monday.

NBC News
“R. Kelly has faced sex-abuse allegations before. Will this time be different?”
February 22, 2019
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“Singer R. Kelly faces new sex abuse charges in #MeToo era”
February 23, 2019
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