Ex-Macomb attorney prosecuted alleged sex offenders. Now she's representing R. Kelly – Detroit Free Press

Nicole Blank Becker was the head of the sex crimes unit when she left the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office last year.

Now, the private-practice attorney in Bingham Farms is defending one of the country’s most well-known R&B singers — R. Kelly — in an alleged sex crime case.

The singer was charged in Chicago in February with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four victims, including three who were underage. He has pleaded not guilty and has denied any wrongdoing.

Blank Becker is one of six attorneys for the singer, and the only one currently from Michigan.

She said she worked for the Legal Aid Defender Office in Detroit and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office before joining the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office in 2005 and then moving to private practice in 2018..

The Oakland County resident, who focuses on sex crime cases throughout metro Detroit at her firm, Blank Law PC, said she started representing Kelly in March.

The Free Press emailed Blank Becker a few questions about her high-profile client:

Q: How did you come to represent R. Kelly?

A: Judge Vonda Evans, whom (I) have known since practicing in Detroit, had a connection to the R. Kelly camp. She immediately thought of me because of my experience with sex crimes. I had a number of meetings with Robert and then I was part of the team.

Q: How many times have you met with him, and what is he like?

A: I have met and spoke to Robert several times, too many to count. Robert happens to be a very intelligent, passionate and talented guy. Robert is human, he has his bad days, but for the most part he is working on his albums and thankful for his fans.

Q: Did you watch the docu-series “Surviving R. Kelly,” and, if so, what did you think of it and R. Kelly – before and then after meeting with your client?

A: I did watch the Lifetime Show. I found it disturbing and I strongly support victims of abuse coming forward. Having met Robert, after the show aired, there are definitely three sides to every story and the public at this point had only heard one.

Q: What did you think about R. Kelly’s outburst during the broadcast interview with Gayle King?

A: I consider the Robert Kelly that the world saw on (Gayle) King was a human outburst of emotion. Robert has been ostracized, blackballed and unable to work in order to support his children and himself. He finally got to the point where his emotions took over. We have all experienced a moment of breaking down, but typically during those delicate moments the whole world is not watching.

Q: What can you tell us about the case and R. Kelly’s side of the story?

A: I cannot speak about the facts of the case at all. 

Q: You used to put accused sex offenders in prison, now you’re defending them. How did you make that transition?

A:  I use the exact same skills, searching for truth and justice. Everyone I defend is not guilty. Anyone who is suspected of committing a crime has a right to have their rights protected. That is what I do, no matter what side I am on.

More: R&B singer R. Kelly under investigation in Detroit

More: Detroit filmmaker, who took on R. Kelly, named to Time 100 list

Contact Christina Hall: chall@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter: @challreporter.

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Ecuador has reportedly agreed to hand the US any hard drives, documents, computers, and cell phones found in the embassy room where Julian Assange lived for nearly 7 years

julian assange ecuador embassy

  • Ecuadorian officials have reportedly agreed to handover any documents, including hard drives, computers, and cell phones to US authorities. 
  • According to Spanish newspaper El Pais, a search of the rooms where Assange was holed up for nearly 7 years will take place on May 20.
  • The US has laid out plans to extradite Assange from the UK on charges related to hacking classified US government computers.
  • Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.

Officials in Ecuador have reportedly agreed to handover any documents, including hard drives, computers, and cell phones to US authorities as they search the Ecuadorian embassy where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was previously holed up for nearly 7 years. 

According to Spanish newspaper El Pais, Ecuador’s attorney general has approved a search of one of the rooms in the embassy Assange used during his stay. Ecuador has agreed to pass any documents or data found during the search to US authorities, who are planning to extradite Assange from the UK on charges related to hacking classified US government computers.

The Department of Justice has outlined charges against Assange linked to his activities with former US soldier Chelsea Manning. The two leaked a massive collection of state secrets in 2010.

Assange was dramatically expelled from the London embassy in April, and was sentenced to 50 weeks in a British prison for breaching bail conditions dating back to 2012. Assange remained inside the embassy for almost seven years after being granted political asylum by Ecuador. He refused to leave the building out of fear of arrest if he stepped outside.

On Monday, Swedish prosecutors announced plans to reopen a previously dropped investigation into rape allegations made against Assange. If found guilty, the 47-year-old could face up to four years in Swedish prison. Assange has consistently denied the allegations.

Read more: Julian Assange sentenced to 50 weeks in British prison following his dramatic expulsion from Ecuadorian Embassy

Earlier this month, WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson was denied entry into the embassy after trying to retrieve Assange’s belongings, referring to the incident as “theft.” 

“It’s pictures of his family, it’s his personal belongings, equipment. He’s been in there for seven years, you can imagine how much is there that needs to be retrieved,” Hrafnsson told supporters and press outside the embassy. “They have no right to hold his material.” 

According to El Pais, the search will take place on May 20 as part of a petition by the US Department of Justice for judicial assistance from the Ecuadorean government. The plans to search the sealed-off room have been communicated to Assange’s lawyer in Ecuador, Carlos Paveda, the report said. 

SEE ALSO: Sweden has reopened its rape investigation into Julian Assange, as the US tries to extradite him over hacking

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