Whatever Happened To Ed Genson From The First R. Kelly Case?

Former R&B superstar R. Kelly was convicted of all counts within his notoriously sordid sex-trafficking case in September 2021, including one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating the Mann Act, which prohibits transporting people across state lines "for any immoral purpose." Per NBC News, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison in June 2022. It was an even longer term than prosecutors originally sought. After hearing from several people whom Kelly had abused and assaulted, many of them teenagers, U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly angrily addressed the defendant as she sentenced him, saying (via NBC News), "You were at the top of your organization, and you raped and beat them, separated them from their families and forced them to do unspeakable things." 

In 2008, Kelly was famously acquitted of a series of child pornography charges that stemmed back to 2002. One of his lawyers at the time was defense attorney Ed Genson, who has a long history of representing controversial clients. Per the Edward M. Genson and Associates website, Kelly was indicted in both Cook County, Illinois, and Polk County, Florida, on 14 and 12 counts, respectively, of producing child pornography after a videotape that allegedly showed him sexually assaulting a minor came to light. Genson led a team of four attorneys that ultimately got all charges dismissed due to an admission from the prosecution that the tape in question wasn't an original (Illinois) and a lack of evidence present when the prosecution asked a judge for a search warrant (Florida).

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Ed Genson found criminal defense fun

A 2008 profile of Ed Genson ran in The New York Times when then-Illinois governor Rod R. Blagojevich hired Genson to represent him in his impeachment hearing after a series of corruption charges, including selling the Senate seat left open when Barack Obama was elected president. Flying high from what The New York Times called "his biggest recent coup" of getting R. Kelly's child pornography charges dropped, when asked why he had taken Blagojevich's case, Genson told reporters, "I take the cases that are fun." Genson's other high-profile cases included defending another former Illinois governor, George Ryan, against his own corruption charges and Conrad M. Black against charges that he defrauded Hollinger International, a media conglomerate he owned. Both Ryan and Black were convicted of the charges against them. 

Genson remained Blagojevich's attorney for just over one month. Per CNN, Genson told reporters, "I never require a client to do what I say but I do require them to at least listen to what I say ... I wish the governor good luck and godspeed." Blagojevich was eventually convicted of 17 counts against him and sentenced to 14 years in prison (via National Post). Then-president Donald Trump commuted his sentence in 2020, as reported by the BBC.

In 2019, Ed Genson gave an interview to the Chicago Sun-Times. He'd been diagnosed with bile duct cancer and told he had a limited amount of time left, which perhaps prompted him to speak out on his career as a criminal defense attorney known for high-profile, often controversial clients. 

Ed Genson said R. Kelly was guilty

In the case of R. Kelly, Ed Genson volunteered the following when the Chicago Sun-Times reporter seemingly asked him if his former client was, in fact, guilty: "He was guilty as hell! I don't think he's done anything inappropriate for years. I'll tell you a secret: I had him go to a doctor to get shots, libido-killing shots. That's why he didn't get arrested for anything else." Genson went on to note that he didn't "facilitate" Kelly, as he "had already done what he'd done," but clarified, "I did facilitate him in the sense I kept him out of trouble for 10 years. I was vetting his records. I listened to them, which ones would make a judge mad." Genson claimed to have changed the original lyrics to Kelly's hit song "Ignition," claiming, "It's a song related to a guy driving around in a car with his girlfriend. It was originally a high school instructor in a class teaching people how to drive a car. I changed the words."

Ed Genson died on April 14, 2020, at the age of 78, per the Chicago Tribune; he was survived by his wife Susan, three children, and five grandchildren. His law partner Vadim Glozman called him "part of an old era of defense attorneys in Chicago that has all but disappeared. He could look at a set of facts that everyone else just took as the truth and see something totally different about it."