American singer-songwriter R. Kelly is no stranger to controversy and the public eye. Seemingly a magnet for concerning allegations, the embattled singer currently faces a plethora of accusations and charges that belong to the non-music related variety. Today, he and his lawyers are back in the news again, this time related to his STI charges.
Kelly is charged with knowingly exposing partners to an STI. Kelly’s lawyers are now allegedly arguing that his charges should be dropped. His lawyers claim that herpes doesn’t meet the definition of a sexually transmitted infection according to the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH).
Officially, Kelly has been charged under N.Y. Pub. Health Law § 2307. This laws states that “Any person who, knowing himself or herself to be infected with an infectious venereal disease, has sexual intercourse with another shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”
Kelly and his lawyers are allegedly arguing that while he was aware of his herpes infection, the case itself should be dropped because herpes shouldn’t be classified as an STI.
Technically, the law doesn’t expand upon what diseases should be included under this statute. It appears that Kelly’s defense is hoping that the statute will be interpreted according to a narrow definition based upon existing precedent.
In 2017, the NYSDOH interpreted the statute to only include “bacterial venereal disease such as syphilis or gonorrhea.” This definition, however, was applied to charges related to spreading HIV amongst minors and thus likely wouldn’t be legally binding.
In addition to this STI charge, Kelly faces many other allegations. Last month Kelly was accused of alleged sexual contact with an underage boy dating back to 2006. The singer has pleaded not guilty to charges related to his NY sex trafficking trial, which began jury selection on August 9th.
Kelly, currently incarcerated in a Chicago prison, is facing numerous federal counts. In June he allegedly fired half of his legal team, just months before his trial was set to begin. Since the 1990s, the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer has been accused of a litany of disturbing alleged crimes including sex crimes, child pornography and human trafficking.