R. Kelly Lawyer Claims Singer Didn't Respond to Lawsuit Because He Can't Read

Mary Scott
May 10, 2019
10:29 A.M.

R.Kelly’s lawyers, on Wednesday, got a judge to withdraw a default judgment against him after arguing that the singer could not respond to his accuser’s lawsuit because he can’t read.


The embattled singer is currently embroiled in several legal battles and spent much of May 8 in court at the Daley Center in Chicago, Illinois.

R. Kelly performing at MSG Theater on Nov. 21, 2012 in New York City. | Photo: Getty Images

R. Kelly performing at MSG Theater on Nov. 21, 2012 in New York City. | Photo: Getty Images

Kelly is currently facing 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse towards four women, and one of those women filed a separate civil lawsuit against him on February 21, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

Per The Week, the woman, identified as H.W. in the suit, claims she met Kelly in 1998 when she was 16 years old and he repeatedly sexually abused her starting a month later.

A day after the woman filed the civil suit, Kelly turned himself in at the Cook County jail for the criminal sexual abuse charges.



Appearing before Judge Moira Johnson at the first hearing on Wednesday, Kelly’s lawyers reportedly claimed that their client was in jail when he was served with the lawsuit documents and could not respond because he is illiterate. Judge Johnson eventually withdrew the default judgment passed against Kelly and reinstated the civil lawsuit.


The singer’s lawyer, Raed Shalabi, told media outlets after the hearing:

“When he got served, he got served while he was in jail. He didn’t know what the documents were. Once we found out there was a judgment against him we filed a motion to vacate right away.”


Long before Kelly’s lawyers presented their argument in court on Wednesday, talk show host, Wendy Williams had made comments about the Grammy-winning singer’s illiteracy on her eponymous talk show last year.


“And also, Robert, it’s long been said, and he actually did admit this to me,” said Williams, according to The Source. “I was shocked he was actually admitting this – because he can’t read, he can’t write, and he can’t add.”


The 52-year-old R&B singer said as much himself to NBC 5 in 2009:

"I don't even read really and I'm not afraid to say that. My cousins and brothers used to tease me 'you can't even read right. How you think you're going to come up?' The only reason I graduated from grammar school is because I had a great jump shot."

R. Kelly leaving the Cook County jail on Feb. 25, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. | Photo: Getty Images

R. Kelly leaving the Cook County jail on Feb. 25, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. | Photo: Getty Images


Kelly’s Wednesday legal business at the Daley Center also included a child support hearing in which he paid $62,000 in back child support to his ex-wife Andrea "Drea" Kelly, with whom he shares a 21-year-old daughter Joann (also known as Buku Abi), and two sons Jay and Robert, Jr.

The “Bump ‘N’ Grind” hitmaker still owes his ex $32,000 in interest while Drea is also requesting for educational support for their daughter, Joann, reports BET.



“He’s not a deadbeat dad. All he wants to do is do right by his kids," Kelly's lawyer, Lisa Damico, reportedly told reporters while his publicist, Darrell Johnson informed TMZ that the singer has set aside the amounts for June, July, and August in an escrow account.

“It’s a victory for my children,” said Drea at a press conference after the hearing. “I’m a mother who stands in the gap for my children and he [Kelly] has a fiduciary responsibility to take care of his children.”

Drea was one of several women featured in “Surviving R. Kelly,” a Lifetime documentary that aired in January and detailed allegations of sexual and physical abuse against Kelly.

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