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Is R Kelly illiterate? Lawyer Jennifer Bonjean 'explained' verdict to him

Eve Edwards June 30, 2022
Is R Kelly illiterate? Lawyer Jennifer Bonjean 'explained' verdict to him
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images


As details of R Kelly’s sentencing come to light, some are now curious about the singer’s literacy given his lawyer hinted he has some issues in that area.

R Kelly, real name Robert Sylvester Kelly, has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for sex abuse crimes against women and underage girls and boys.

The “I Believe I Can Fly” singer was sentenced on Wednesday, 29 June 2022 by US District Judge Ann Donnelly after hearing hours of testimony from seven victims in a Brooklyn federal court.

While the results of the sentencing might not surprise many – details of R Kelly’s crimes have come to light over the years thanks to documentaries such as Surviving R Kelly – certain details from the trial have surprised

Photo by Antonio Perez – Pool via Getty Images

Jennifer Bonjean ‘explained’ verdict to R Kelly during sentencing

After R Kelly’s trial, his lawyer Jennifer Bonjean raised the issue of his literacy. She explained that she had to relay some of the sentencing to Kelly afterwards:

“As you all know Mr. Kelly has some literacy issues… there is a great deal of things that have to be explained a little more slowly.”

Bonjean also explained that Kelly was “devastated” upon learning of his sentence. “Obviously, he is devastated,” said Bonjean. “Thirty years in prison is like a life sentence for him.”

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Is R Kelly illiterate?

R Kelly has been diagnosed with dyslexia and has struggled with reading and understanding words. Jennifer Bonjean described Kelly as “effectively illiterate,” as reported by the New York Post.

Kelly’s literacy issues have been raised in the media in the past, particularly when they arose during his 2019 trial. In May of that year, Kelly failed to respond to a lawsuit because his lawyer claimed he could not read as reported by The Guardian.

R Kelly’s legal team have repeatedly stated that Kelly is illiterate.

R Kelly sentenced after decades of trials

Back in 2008, R Kelly was trialled for the first time in Illinois when he was acquitted of more than “a dozen charges of child pornography,” as reported by the New York Times.

The past few years have seen Kelly evade the law on numerous occasions, including in May 2019 when he avoided a lawsuit by claiming he ‘could not read’.

Now, 14 years later, Kelly is facing three decades of time in federal prison on sexual abuse charges.

R Kelly is scheduled to stand trial again in Chicago on 15 August 2022. There he faces federal charges for producing child pornography and luring minors into sex acts, as reported by the New York Times.

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Eve spends her days writing about everything culture-related. From celebrity news to music, film and television, Eve covers all bases. When she’s not writing you can find her making music or mastering the art of homemade pasta.