CHICAGO – R. Kelly was charged with 10 counts of criminal sexual abuse involving at least three underage victims in a Chicago court Friday after decades of rumors and allegations that the R&B star was abusing women and underage girls.
Tandra Simonton, spokeswoman for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, announced in a press conference Friday charges had been filed against the 52-year-old Grammy winner. A bond hearing will be held for Kelly in Chicago Saturday afternoon, reported Fox News.
Kelly has denied allegations of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for decades. Neither Kelly’s legal representative nor the Cook County prosecutor’s office immediately responded to Fox News’ request for comment on the charges.
Kelly was charged a week after Michael Avenatti, the attorney whose clients have included porn star Stormy Daniels, said he recently gave Chicago prosecutors new video evidence of the singer having sex with an underage girl. It was not immediately clear if the charges were connected to that video.
The singer, whose full name is Robert Kelly, is one of the top-selling recording artists of all time. He has won multiple Grammys, including for his hit song “I Believe I Can Fly.” His arrest sets the stage for another #MeToo-era celebrity trial after Bill Cosby went to prison last year, as former Hollywood studio boss Harvey Weinstein is awaiting trial.
In 2008, a jury acquitted Kelly of child pornography charges over a graphic video that prosecutors said showed him having sex with a girl as young as 13. He and the young woman allegedly depicted with him denied they were in the 27-minute video, even though the picture quality was good and witnesses testified it was them, and she did not take the stand. Kelly could have gotten 15 years in prison.
Avenatti says he has evidence R. Kelly and his “enablers” paid witnesses and others to “rig” the outcome of the R&B star’s trial.
Avenatti told The Associated Press that’s one piece of information he’ll present at a news conference Friday in Chicago.
The news comes just one day after two more women came forward with allegations that Kelly singled them out at a party in 1996. They alleged he had his entourage give them alcohol and marijuana before inviting them to his hotel room where he allegedly raped one of them.
Kelly broke into the R&B scene in 1993 with his first solo album, “12 Play,” which produced such popular sex-themed songs as “Bump N’ Grind” and “Your Body’s Callin’.”
Months after those successes, the then-27-year-old Kelly faced allegations he married 15-year-old Aaliyah, the R&B star who later died in a plane crash in the Bahamas. Kelly was the lead songwriter and producer of Aaliyah’s 1994 debut album.
Kelly and Aaliyah never confirmed the marriage, though Vibe magazine published a copy of the purported marriage license. Court documents later obtained by The Chicago Sun-Times showed Aaliyah admitted lying about her age on the license.
Jim DeRogatis, a longtime music critic for the Sun-Times, played a key role in drawing the attention of law enforcement to Kelly. In 2002, he received the sex tape in the mail that was central to Kelly’s 2008 trial. He turned it over to prosecutors. In 2017, DeRogatis wrote a story for BuzzFeed about the allegations Kelly was holding women against their will in Georgia.
Despite accusations that span decades, the singer and songwriter who rose from poverty on Chicago’s South Side has retained a sizable following. He has written numerous hits for himself and other artists, including Celine Dion, Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga. His collaborators have included Jay-Z and Usher.