After years in and out of controversy, R. Kelly was once again in the spotlight for something other than his music after Lifetime released the six-part docuseries called “Surviving R. Kelly” in January 2019. The series showed several women coming forward, detailing horrific accounts of sexual abuse of both women and minors at the hands of the singer. Subsequently, there was a growing public movement against Kelly.
On Feb. 22, 2019, the singer, whose full name is Robert Kelly, was arrested and indicted on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four alleged victims from 1998 to 2010. Hours after Chicago police issued a warrant for his arrest, Kelly turned himself in.
A Cook County judge set R. Kelly’s bond at $1 million on Feb. 23, 2019. The judge set the bond at $250,000 for each case, which means Kelly will need to put forth $100,000 to make bail. Under the terms of his bond, the R&B singer will have to his surrender his passport and can not have any contact with any persons under the age of 18.
After the bail hearing, CNN reported that Kelly’s attorney Steve Greenberg said Kelly and his defense team were “very happy” with the amount and that it seems “fair and reasonable given the allegations.”
During the bail hearing, prosecutors revealed allegations that the singer had spit on two of his alleged victims. According to Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s description of the evidence, one victim was under the age of 16, two were 16 and one was 24 years old. The indictment also says Kelly used force or the threat of force on his alleged victims, reports CNN.
The defense lawyer added, “Right now he’s presumed innocent. We haven’t seen any reason to believe that these allegations are credible.” Greenberg also said he believes “all the women are lying.” The attorney said, “Mr. Kelly is strong, he’s got a lot of support and he’s going to be vindicated on all these charges — one by one if it has to be.”
His arraignment is set for March 8.
Earlier in February, a grand jury was convened in Cook County this month in regards to new allegations against Kelly, CNN reported at the time.
On Feb. 15, 2019, attorney Michael Avenatti came forward and gave a tape to State’s Attorney’s Office on behalf of an unnamed “whistleblower” that allegedly showed Kelly having sex with an underage girl.
In a press conference, Avenatti told reporters, “This tape leaves no question as to whether R. Kelly is guilty of multiple sexual, illegal acts against a 14-year-old girl.”
Avenatti also said, “My client knows the identity of the girl and R. Kelly. He identified the two of them on the videotape. He worked for and has known R. Kelly for decades and he met the girl on a number of occasions.”
After staff at CNN watched the VHS tape in question, the outlet reported, “It appears to show Kelly having sex with a girl who refers to her body parts as 14 years old.”
This is not the first time that Kelly has found himself in a similar legal situation. On Feb. 3, 2002, a video surfaced allegedly showing Kelly engaging in sex and urinating on an underage girl. In June 2002, Kelly was indicted in Chicago on 21 counts of child pornography. Later that month, Kelly was apprehended by Miami Police Department on his Chicago arrest warrant.
During the investigation, Polk County Sheriff’s Office searched Kelly’s residence in Davenport, Florida and recovered 12 images of an allegedly underage girl on a digital camera which allegedly showed Kelly “involved in sexual conduct with the female minor.” According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the girl in the images obtained from Kelly’s Florida home was also the girl in the videotape. In January 2003, Kelly was finally arrested in January 2003 on the Florida charges, but a year later, those charges were dropped due to a lack of probable cause for the search warrants.
After six years, Kelly’s child pornography case went to trial and after less than a day of deliberations, a Chicago jury found Kelly not guilty of 14 out of 14 counts of child pornography. The defense argued you could not confidently identify Kelly in the video.
In a news conference on Feb. 22, 2019, Greenberg brought up the point of contention that one of the charges against Kelly involves the alleged victim from his 2008 child pornography case and should be barred due to double jeopardy. However, the 2019 chargers are of aggravated sexual abuse, not child pornography.
Throughout the decades of allegations, Kelly has strongly denied any and all accusations of sexual abuse and misconduct.