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Admittedly illiterate R. Kelly is fighting back against a whopping $10.5 million judgment that was ruled against him due to an explosive lawsuit in August. The ruling was connected to six women who alleged they were sexually victimized by the disgraced singer.

Now, the troubled R&B star — who is currently serving over 30 years in prison for sex trafficking, child pornography, and racketeering charges — claims he shouldn’t be held accountable for the suit because he didn’t know about it and couldn’t “read or understand” the court documents beyond that of a child in grade school. 


R.Kelly, Donnell Russell, read, lawsuit, Surviving R.Kelly, $10.5 million

Source: John Lamparski / Getty

In Court Docs, The Singer Claimed That He Couldn’t Read Or Understand “Beyond That Of A Grade-Schooler”

According to court documents obtained by TMZ,  R.Kelly — real name Robert Sylvester Kelly — argued that he shouldn’t have had to pay a whopping $10.5 million to the six women who successfully sued him and his former manager, Donnell Russell, in August 2023. The plaintiffs alleged that he and Russell were involved in a plot to disrupt a December 2018 NYC screening of the Surviving R. Kelly docuseries by making a mass shooting threat, but the “Step In the Name of Love ” hitmaker vehemently denied the allegations. 

The incarcerated Chicago native, 57, claimed that he never saw the lawsuit because he’s juggling multiple criminal cases and prosecutions. The R&B crooner told court officials that he had recently changed legal representation and that the lawsuit may have been overlooked during the transition. Additionally, Kelly argued that due to his limited reading ability beyond that of a child in a certain grade level, he heavily relies on his attorneys to explain information connected to his various suits.

“I rely on my lawyers to explain things to me because I cannot read or understand words beyond that of a grade-schooler,” Kelly said, according to XXL Magazine.

R. Kelly’s lawyer has since released a statement backing up Kelly’s claims while explaining further.

In a statement to XXL, Jennifer Bonjean, Kelly’s attorney, clarified that the Grammy Award-winning singer’s dispute wasn’t just because of his illiteracy.

“We are absolutely pushing back on the $10.5 million default judgment that was entered against him without notice and without a sound legal justification,” she said.

“It would be simplistic and silly to write that the basis for our motion to vacate the windfall judgment relates solely to his illiteracy (although he is in fact functionally illiterate per formalized testing). The more significant problem is that there was no legal basis to enter the default judgment on the merits.”

Bonjean added:

“It is not even disputed that Kelly played no role in the events that formed the basis of that lawsuit and did not even know what allegedly occurred until after the fact. He cannot as a matter of law be liable for the intentional conduct of someone who was not even his employee. I am more than happy to send you the pleading if you care to educate yourself on the issues.”

Oddly, Kelly asserted that Russell never managed him throughout his career and maintained that he didn’t know why the music business official would go to great lengths to stop the Surviving R. Kelly screening with a mass shooting threat.

“He did that for his own reasons,” the “Bump n’ Grind” artist said.

In 2022, a federal judge slammed Russell with a 20-month prison sentence for reportedly “harassing and intimidating” a victim of Kelly’s, the New York Post noted. 


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