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R. Kelly gave an emotional and explosive talk, defending his innocence in his first interview since being charged with sexual abuse.
USA TODAY

CHICAGO — R. Kelly returns to court Friday, where Judge Lawrence Flood will consider the singer’s request that he permitted to travel to the United Arab Emirates next month to perform at several concerts.

Kelly, who was indicted in February on charges of sexually abusing three minor girls and a woman, was required to surrender his passport and remain in Illinois under the terms of his $1 million bond.

But Kelly says his reputation at home has been tarnished by his legal struggle. He contends he can’t keep up with child support responsibilities and mounting legal fees without traveling overseas for paying gigs.

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Singer R. Kelly was back at court in Chicago for a hearing on his child support case. Kelly was arrested earlier this month for $161,633 in unpaid child support. (March 13)
AP

Kelly’s attorney, Steven Greenberg, asked Flood to grant the singer permission to travel to Dubai for performances scheduled from April 17 to 19, shows he signed on to do before his indictment last month. 

 “As has been well publicized, Mr. Kelly needs to generate income,” Greenberg said in his motion requesting the court grant the singer permission to travel to Dubai. “He has struggled of late to pay his child support and other child-related expenses. Denying him the opportunity to work would be a hardship on his children.”

Some streaming services have removed Kelly’s songs, and his record company, RCA/Sony, has canceled his recording contract following the 10-count indictment.

Child support: R. Kelly released from jail; lawyer of sex abuse accusers claims more evidence in case

U.A.E.: R. Kelly’s Dubai trip highlights the destination’s status as a celebrity safe haven

But the problems for Kelly, who has been shadowed by accusations of sexual misconduct for years, started before his indictment. 

In January, soon after the Lifetime network aired the “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary series, Illinois officials rejected a permit application from organizers of an April “Spring Break Jam” at the Illinois State Fairgrounds that was to be hosted by Kelly. in rejecting the organizers permit, state officials cited concerns about possible protests if Kelly were to appear.

Greenberg also noted that Kelly was dropped from the bill of the “2018 Love Jam” at a University of Illinois at Chicago venue last year after faculty and students raised concerns to administrators about Kelly performing there.

Kelly spent three days in jail earlier this month after falling $161,000 behind on child support. He was released after a supporter paid the outstanding amount.

“The law should not differentiate when it comes to the ability to work between those who have locally based jobs and those whose work require them to travel elsewhere,” Greenberg wrote in his motion asking Flood to allow Kelly to travel to the United Arab Emirates. “Frankly, the requirement that someone remain tied to the state of Illinois simply because an accusation has been made against them is unnecessary in light of modern technology.”

Before his arrest for failure to pay child support, Kelly told “CBS This Morning” anchor Gayle King that people with access to his account “have been stealing my money.”

He told King that he had learned he had $350,000 in his bank account in the weeks before his arrest.

The singer told King, “Didn’t know what I was doing, didn’t know what the hell was going on” with his finances.

While in Dubai, Kelly is supposed to meet with the “royal family” and plans to fly by private jet, according to the filing. Dubai is ruled by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. The nation is known for its high-end shopping, stunning skyscrapers and luxury night clubs.

The U.S. government and U.A.E. don’t have an extradition treaty, but Greenberg argued in his motion that there should be no concern that Kelly would try to flee.

“The United States and U.A.E. have great relations, and they (U.A.E.) are not going to jeopardize that relationship to harbor R. Kelly,” Greenberg wrote.