CHICAGO (CBS) — A Cook County judge has granted city officials access to a Near West Side warehouse rented by singer R. Kelly, to investigate complaints people have been living there in violation of zoning laws, and that a kitchen and recording studio were built without proper permits.
At a hearing Friday afternoon, a judge approved the city’s request to enter the building at 219 N. Justine St. for an inspection, which will take place on Jan 16.
City inspectors had sought to get inside the building this past Wednesday, but were not allowed inside, after receiving an anonymous 311 call claiming the building is being used as a residence, even though the property is zoned only for commercial use. The city also claims the recording studio and a kitchen inside were built without proper permits. Fines could approach $8,000 a day.
A carpenter, plumber, electrician, and lead inspector will conduct the inspection. In court, a city inspector said it appeared the windows of the building have been sealed, and the doors have been changed. Attorneys for the company that owns the building also revealed in court that they have been unable to go inside, because they don’t have a key.
The recording studio was featured in the recent documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly,” in which multiple women accused Kelly of physically, sexually, and mentally abusing them, and operating a “sex cult.”
A couple from Florida recently traveled to Chicago to protest outside Kelly’s recording studios, claiming their daughter is being held captive by Kelly. They could be seen throwing rocks at the windows of his recording studio.
City attorneys were seeking a court order to allow building inspectors to go inside the building to investigate the alleged zoning and permit violations. Kelly is not a named as a defendant in the city’s lawsuit, which was filed against the building owners, the bank that holds the mortgage, and unnamed tenants and occupants.
Kelly’s attorney, Steve Greenberg, has said the abuse allegations against him are not true.
“There hasn’t been anyone who’s come forward and said that he did anything wrong with anyone underage. There hasn’t been anyone who’s contacted any law enforcement and said they were illegally held, or brainwashed, or sex culted, or anything like that,” he said.
Greenberg has said Kelly did not watch the recent series about him, and has no reason to, calling it “trash TV.”
“No one wants to be judged by rumor and innuendo. You want to be judged by the facts. I think Mr. Kelly should live his life however he wants to live his life. He’s not breaking any laws. He’s not doing anything illegal. He’s not taking advantage of anybody.”
Meantime, the landlord for Kelly’s recording studio is seeking to evict him, claiming the singer is $80,000 behind on his rent.