Cash-strapped R. Kelly has asked a judge to let him travel to the Middle East to perform several concerts, having struggled to work in the U.S since his February arrest on sex abuse charges.
According to a Wednesday court filing, the R&B singer – real name Robert Sylvester Kelly – hopes to do up to five concerts next month in Dubai.
The motion filed in Cook County Circuit Court does not specify venues or how much Kelly could earn from the concerts, but contends they were arranged prior to Kelly’s arrest.
Kelly, 52, also plans to meet members of royal families in the United Arab Emirates, the filing said.
Kelly is scrambling to pay child support, legal fees and everyday expenses because of the cancellation of Illinois concerts and a record contract, as well as the removal of his songs from streaming services, according to the five-page court document said.
‘He cannot work, and consequently cannot make a living if he is confined to Illinois, or even the United States,’ it reads.
‘Mr. Kelly needs to generate income.’
A judge could rule on the travel request at a Friday pretrial hearing.
Wednesday’s filing also criticized Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, accusing her of using the case ‘to thrust herself into the spotlight of the #MeToo movement’ and to boost her nationwide profile.
A spokeswoman for Foxx said prosecutors would respond to the defense filing at the Friday hearing but declined further comment.
Kelly grew up in a Chicago public housing project and went on to become an internationally-acclaimed singer. But amid abuse allegations, music industry executives and fans have started keeping their distance. Lawsuits and tax issues have also hurt him financially.
He was charged on February 22 with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse for allegedly assaulting three underage girls and one adult woman. He has denied ever abusing anyone.
Defense lawyer Steve Greenberg joked to a judge the next day at a bond hearing that, ‘Contrary to the song, Mr. Kelly doesn’t like to fly’ – a reference to the singer’s hit ‘I Believe I Can Fly.’