R. Kelly Trial: Jurors may have to answer personal question about STDs

Posted at 8:12 AM, April 17, 2020 and last updated 7:27 PM, May 17, 2023

By: Court TV Staff

The New York federal case against Grammy-winning artist R. Kelly is expected to be the first of the four pending cases against him to go to trial.

This week, attorneys are drafting a juror questionnaire ahead of his trial. Prosecutors are objecting to one of the more controversial questions saying it is “unnecessarily intrusive.”

The question asks, “Have you, a family member, a close friend, or a spouse or partner ever had a sexually transmitted disease?”


The defense hopes to keep the question in, while the prosecution argues to have it removed.

Mike Leonard, who represents R. Kelly, went on record saying:

“Because there’s going to be a whole panoply about evidence presented by the state about Mr. Kelly about his health condition- whether he allegedly transmitted an STD to somebody else, whether they knew that he had an STD. So clearly, it’s evidence that the government’s going to rely upon his case in chief. So, it would make obvious sense to make tested questions about their familiarity with it, whether they’ve experienced themselves, whether they’ve been a victim of that type of STD, etc, etc. So to us, it’s a no brainer.”

Kelly is accused of having sex with underage girls. The New York case alleges that he also gave a girl herpes without disclosing the disease, which is why the juror question about STD’s came about initially.

In 2008, Kelly was found Not Guilty in a child pornography case. The latest charges surfaced following the Lifetime documentary series, “Surviving R. Kelly” which featured alleged victims’ stories of manipulation and abuse at the hands of Kelly.

Kelly has consistently denied any wrongdoing, saying all of his relationships were consensual and the girls were all of the age of consent.