Lawyers for R&B singer R Kelly were granted more time to prepare his defence for his upcoming sex-trafficking trial in New York City.
US District Judge Ann Donnelly said jury selection would go forward on August 9 as originally planned but agreed to delay opening statements until August 18 rather than start the openings right after the panel is picked.
The jailed Kelly switched legal teams less than a month ago, and his new lawyers had asked a judge to postpone the New York trial for a longer period, saying they could not adequately prepare.
The lawyers said they had been unable to meet with him in person while he was quarantined for 14 days in a Brooklyn federal jail after being brought there from Chicago on June 22.
Federal jails have been quarantining transferred and newly incarcerated inmates since early in the Covid-19 pandemic.
The legal team also asked Kelly to be released on bail so he could better assist in his defence – a request the judge quickly denied.
She assured them that they could now see Kelly in person at the jail seven days a week if they wanted.
“You’re going to have full access to Mr Kelly,” she said.
Kelly, 54, was making his first in-person appearance in a New York court since his transfer.
He did not speak, except to exchange greetings with the judge.
The Grammy-winning, multiplatinum-selling R&B singer is charged with leading an enterprise of managers, bodyguards and other employees who helped him recruit women and girls for sex.
Federal prosecutors say the group selected victims at concerts and other venues and arranged for them to travel to see Kelly.
The case is only part of the legal peril facing the singer, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, and he has also pleaded not guilty to sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota.
He denies ever abusing anyone.
Kelly won multiple Grammys for I Believe I Can Fly, a 1996 song that became an inspirational anthem played at school graduations, weddings, advertisements and elsewhere.
Nearly a decade later, he began releasing what eventually became 22 musical chapters of Trapped in the Closet, a drama that spins a tale of sexual deceit and became a cult classic.
But Kelly has been trailed for decades by complaints and allegations about his sexual behaviour, including a 2002 child pornography case in Chicago. He was acquitted in that case in 2008.
Scrutiny intensified again amid the #MeToo movement in recent years, with multiple women going public with accusations against the singer. The pressure intensified with the release of the Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly in 2019.