R. Kelly arrested: Singer charged with 10 counts of sex abuse; Michael Avenatti details new tape


R. Kelly was charged Friday with multiple counts of sexual abuse in Cook County, Illinois.

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The R&B star was indicted before a grand jury on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, involving four female minors, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said at a press conference Friday. Kelly, whose legal name is Robert Kelly, turned himself in to Chicago police at about 8:15 p.m.

Kelly saluted the crowd on the sidewalk as he left his West Side studio, single-file behind his attorney. His entourage popped up an umbrella, trying to guard the Grammy winning artist as he climbed into a waiting black van, which then took off in a caravan to escort Kelly to CPD central booking.

There Kelly looked defiant, ignoring shouted questions about his fans, accusers and his alleged crimes.

Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Kelly will be fingerprinted, photographed and processed Friday night, and will remain in police custody until he takes prisoner transport to appear before a Cook County judge in bond court Saturday.

READ: R. Kelly indictment documents

Foxx detailed the charges Friday afternoon. Three of the four victims were between the ages 13 and 17 when the alleged abuse occurred, with Kelly being more than five years older than the victims, Foxx said. The alleged abuse took place between September 1998 and January 2010. The indictment papers do not say where the alleged crimes took place.

Foxx referred to the victims by their initials. The first victim said she was abused four times, between May 26, 1998 and May 25, 1999. The second victim said she was abused twice, between Sept. 26, 1998 and Sept. 25, 2001. The third victim said she was abused on Feb. 18, 2003. The fourth victim said she was abuse three times, between May 1, 2009 and Jan. 31, 2010.

WATCH: Timeline of R. Kelly sex abuse allegations

Foxx said aggravated criminal sexual abuse is a class 2 felony. If convicted, Kelly could face up to seven years in prison for each count. If a judge decides the sentences should be consecutive, he could be sentenced to up to 70 years in prison. Foxx said probation is an option.

Kelly is expected to be in bond court Saturday afternoon, Foxx said. Court records show he is also scheduled to make a court appearance on March 8 at 9 a.m.

Kelly has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct. His attorney Steve Greenberg said Kelly is “shellshocked” by the charges, as well as “extremely disappointed and depressed.”

“They’re making him a sacrificial lamb for their own sake and there’s no merit to any of this,” Greenberg said outside the studio.

Greenberg also accused prosecutors of re-trying Kelly’s 2008 case.

“One of the cases seems to be a rehash he was acquitted for. Double jeopardy should apply to everyone,” Greenberg said.

He also dismissed Michael Avenatti’s revelations about a new video tape.

“Unfortunately, the state’s attorney now succumbed to public pressure, to pressure from grand standers like Michael Avenatti,” he said.

The 52-year-old Grammy winner is one of the top-selling recording artists of all time, with hits such as “I Believe I Can Fly”.

In the indictment, the prosecution addresses the question of the statute of limitations, which is likely to be raised by the defense. It describes how prosecutors can charge Kelly under Illinois law even though the alleged crimes occurred as much as two decades ago.

The indictment says in at least one instance, the abuse of a minor occurred between 1998 and 1999 but that it clearly fell within the 20-year charging window allowed under Illinois law. The 20-year period only begins, it says, after a victim turns 18.


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.

Avenatti said his office was retained last April by people regarding allegations of sexual assault of minors by Kelly. He said the video surfaced during a 10-month investigation. He told the AP that the person who provided the VHS tape knew both Kelly and the female in the video.

At a Friday afternoon press conference, Avenatti said the video was shot in the late 1990s, approximately in 1999. He said the tape contains two separate scenes shot on two separate days, both inside Kelly’s residence at the time.

Avenatti said the tape is superior in both audio and video quality than the one used in Kelly’s 2008 trial. He said on the tape, Kelly and the victim both refer to her age as being 14 years old in excess of 10 separate times.

Avenatti said the tape depicts a number of sex acts and that several times in it, Kelly stops to move the camera, adjust the angle, and zoom in or out. Avenatti also said at the beginning of the tape Kelly has the victim watch another sexually explicit video that appears to depict him with another young girl on a television in his residence.

Avenatti said that within days of recovering the tape he turned it over to Foxx and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. He said he is aware of two additional tapes, one which has already been recovered and another that his office is in the process of recovering, and that both will be turned over to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

RELATED: R. Kelly seen having sex with underage girl in new tape, attorney says

Avenatti said he represents six clients in the Kelly case, including two victims, two parents and two whistle-blowers who knew Kelly and were part of his inner circle for more than 20 years.

Avenatti said he has evidence R. Kelly and his “enablers” paid witnesses and others to “rig” the outcome of Kelly’s 2008 trial, when he was acquitted on child pornography charges.

In that case, prosecutors said a graphic video showed Kelly 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.

Charging Kelly now with sexual assault for actions that occurred within the same time frame as the allegations from the 2008 trial suggests the accusers are cooperating this time and willing to testify.

Because the alleged victim 10 years ago denied that she was on the video and did not testify, the state’s attorney office had little recourse except to charge the less offense under Illinois law, child pornography, which requires a lower standard of evidence.


Several law enforcement sources confirmed to ABC News Friday that Kelly is under investigation by at least three different federal law enforcement agencies.

The FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the IRS have each opened investigations since the airing of the Lifetime docuseries, “Surviving R. Kelly.” This documentary and one from the BBC released last year detailed allegations he was holding women against their will and running a “sex cult.”
Homeland Security is examining potential sex trafficking and child exploitation crimes and the FBI and IRS are examining R. Kelly’s finances, the sources said. The agencies have declined comment.

On Thursday, two women said Kelly picked them out of a crowd at Baltimore after-party in the mid-1990s and had sex with one of them, who was 16.

After “Surviving R. Kelly” was released, Foxx said she was “sickened” by the allegations and asked potential victims to come forward.

#MeToo activists and a social media movement using the hashtag #MuteRKelly called on streaming services to drop Kelly’s music and promoters not to book any more concerts. And protesters demonstrated outside Kelly’s Chicago studio.


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.

RELATED: See inside R. Kelly’s West Loop studio

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 Chicago 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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