R. Kelly lawyers argue herpes not 'serious' as trial begins

The 54-year old singer has denied any wrongdoing and will face opening arguments on Wednesday
R. Kelly
Photo credit Getty Images
By , Audacy

There's a whole lot of lawyering going on in Brooklyn as R&B singer R. Kelly prepares to stand trial after federal prosecutors unsealed indictments against the disgraced icon in 2019 on a number of charges including accusations of prolonged abuse against young girls and women, child porn, payments made to silence alleged victims, and knowingly exposing at least one minor to an STD infection in 2015.

Just a day before the trial officially begins on August 19, Kelly's defense lawyers attempted to shield the court from hearing any testimony about his herpes, saying he should not be held criminally responsible for transmitting the virus to a minor because it is not life-threatening.

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In a final attempt to have his matter dropped, Kelly's lawyers argued that herpes does not fall under Section 2307 of the New York Public Health Law from 1943 definition of an “acute, bacterial venereal disease.”

One member of his defense team, Thomas A. Farinella, said that “other case law indicates that infection with HIV is not a serious injury, since medical advances in recent years mean that HIV no longer poses a grave risk of death," arguing that "herpes should not be judge[d] differently."

Kelly’s lawyers have also argued that the allegation against the singer regarding a conspiracy to bribe and kidnap women and girls should also be dismissed, because the alleged misdeeds "occurred outside the proscribed statutory period of time such claims could be made.”

The 54-year old singer, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, has denied any wrongdoing throughout and will face opening arguments on Wednesday, August 18, before a jury made up of seven men and five women after several delays due to the pandemic. Kelly has also pleaded not guilty to sex-related charges in the states of Illinois and Minnesota, each of which will be litigated after he's finished in New York. If convicted, Kelly is looking at very serious jail time.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images