Despite objections from some of the women allegedly sexually abused by R. Kelly, the judge presiding over the case, Lawrence Flood, has ruled that cameras will be allowed in the courthouse during the trial.
It is reported that two of the four women involved in the case wrote to Flood specifically request that cameras not be allowed in the courtroom during the trial. According to the charges against Kelly, which include 10 counts of sexual abuse against three underage girls and one woman, both of these women were underage at the time of the alleged sexual abuse. “I have no interest in being a media spectacle,” wrote one, noting that Kelly’s legal team has made attempts to publicly shame victims in the past.
According to a statement given by Kelly’s attorney, Steve Greenberg, to the Chicago Sun-Times, “Mr. Kelly wants everyone to know what is going on in an open and transparent process. People can form their own opinions about what they see, and they don’t have to rely on rumor and innuendo.”
Flood maintains the right to stop recording on a witness-by-witness basis in order to protect identities. According to the Chicago Sun Tribune, the two women who protested cameras in the courtroom will not have their testimony televised. As victims of an alleged crime, these women have certain rights, one of which is protection from intimidation and harassment throughout the trial proceedings. To publicize the trial in that way exposes these four women to public scrutiny with greater severity and directness than if they were to remain unidentified to the public. Most news outlets don’t identify victims of sexual assault unless they choose to identify themselves of their own volition.
There are debates for and against televising rape and sexual abuse trials. People that are for televising them believe that there is a cleansing effect and that it can present the trial from the perspective of it being about the crime and not about shaming the victim. Those that are against televising trials involving sex crimes worry about the influence a camera has on the proceedings of a case and the dangers of turning a courtroom into a forum, which could have negative repercussions for the victims and their loved ones.
Kelly has continued to vehemently deny the charges levied against him. He is due back in court next week.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).