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The Unlikely Survivability of R. Kelly's Freedom

After years of rumors and criminal charges surrounding his supposed proclivities for minor females, R. Kelly has replaced a wardrobe custom-made for a wealthy R&B mogul for an orange jumpsuit and ankle shackles.

This appearance was not his first time in front of a judge, nor his inaugural stint in jail. Kelly’s latest incarceration comes five months after sexual abuse charges put him in a Cook County Jail where he bonded out.

New indictments that Kelly committed acts of abuse to young girls over several decades in both Illinois and New York resulted in a federal judge to hold him without bail. U.S. Judge Harry Leinenweber agreed with prosecutors that the 52-year-old entertainer was not only a significant flight risk but also extremely dangerous to the community.

If convicted in either or both jurisdictions, the once-chart-topping singer could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Kelly’s attorney disputed the “flight risk” claim, asking instead for release on electronic monitoring. Greenberg asserted that he has never missed a court date, nor has he attempted to leave the jurisdiction while under investigation

Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges 17 years ago with many claiming a rigged process that let him off. Part of the current 13-count indictment in Illinois alleges that Kelly and his associates proactively purchased child sex tapes before prosecutors could secure the much-needed evidence and bribed witnesses to change their accounts, including one of his female victims and her father.

Once a story in the shadows, the recent “Surviving R Kelly” documentary put a bright spotlight on these alleged criminal acts via victim accounts providing one side of the story. The high-profile Lifetime show likely saw a majority of viewers finding or affirming his guilt in the court of public opinion. The impact could significantly hamstring jury selection.

Even if R. Kelly can overcome the Herculean obstacles once again, what remains of his damaged-beyond-repair career and reputation will likely not survive.

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