CHICAGO (CBS) — R. Kelly was back behind bars on Friday, charged in two separate federal indictments in Chicago and New York; including allegations accusing him of a scheme to recruit and sexually abuse girls and to pay off victims and witnesses to cover up his crimes.
The charges also include allegations he paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to recover tapes of him sexually abusing the girl at the center of his 2008 child pornography trial and coerced the victim to lie about what happened.
A federal judge ordered Kelly to remain in federal custody at least until a detention hearing next week. His arraignment has been scheduled for Tuesday afternoon at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse.
Federal prosecutors said Kelly “threatened, intimidated, physically abused, and used violence, threats of violence, and other controlling behaviors against victims and witnesses so that he could abuse, manipulate, and control them.”
According to the charges in Chicago, Kelly sexually abused five girls in the late 1990s, made videos of four of the victims, and then paid hush money and made threats to cover up his sex crimes.
“Defendant’s psychological abuse and control of the young girls, who are now adults, is real and ongoing,” prosecutors wrote in a memo supporting their request to keep him in jail for now. “Further, defendant and his co-conspirators used defendant’s fame, power, and financial resources to go to great lengths to obstruct justice, cover-up evidence, and tamper with witnesses. For years, defendant used threats, intimidation, and pressure to cause victims, their family members, and witnesses to provide false information to law enforcement regarding defendant’s sexual abuse of young teen girls.”
In Chicago, federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment Friday morning, charging him on 13 counts including child pornography, enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity and obstruction of justice.
Federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York filed a separate five-count indictment, charging Kelly with racketeering, transporting for prostitution and coercion or enticement to engage in criminal sexual activity.
Kelly, 52, was arrested around 7 p.m. Chicago time while walking his dog and was being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago.
Defense attorney Steve Greenberg said he believes Kelly should be granted bail when he appears for a detention hearing next week.
“The man is not a flight risk. The man never missed a court date in the 2000s when he was charged with a case. He hasn’t missed a court date on the state case that’s pending now,” he said. “It’s the worst-kept secret that he was going to get charged federally, and he hasn’t fled. So he’s certainly not a flight risk. He’s not a danger to anybody at all.”
Greenberg called the new charges “the worst case of piling on I’ve ever seen.”
“I’m amazed that he hasn’t had a complete breakdown in the face of all of this pressure and the pressure on his career,” Greenberg said.
Federal Charges In Chicago
The Chicago indictment accuses Kelly and former manager Derrel McDavid of conspiring to cover up videotapes Kelly allegedly made of himself having sex with children. Another Kelly employee, Milton “June” Brown, faces child pornography charges for allegedly helping ship videotapes of Kelly’s sexual crimes in the U.S. mail.
The indictment accuses Kelly of having sex with five girls:
- A 12- or 13-year old girl in 1996 or 1997
- A 17-year-old girl in 1997
- A 15-year-old girl in 1996
- A 16-year-old girl in 1999
- A 13- or 14-year-old girl in 1997 or 1998.
Federal prosecutors allege Kelly videotaped himself having sex with four of those girls. According to the indictment, Kelly, McDavid, and Brown schemed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to recover those tapes when the singer discovered them missing from his collection.
One of the girls Kelly allegedly abused, identified in the indictment only as “Minor 1,” is the same girl who was at the center of a child pornography case filed against Kelly in 2002. He was acquitted in that case in 2008.
The feds said Kelly coerced the girl and her parents to lie to police and a Cook County grand jury about Kelly’s sex crimes. McDavid allegedly instructed the girl’s father to deny she was the girl on the video, and Kelly allegedly persuaded the girl to falsely deny that he’d abused her, and to falsely deny that it was her on the tape.
Kelly also allegedly made payments and bought gifts for that victim and her parents from 2000 to 2015 to keep them quiet about the videos.
Kelly and McDavid also allegedly paid off others so they wouldn’t cooperate with the investigation, and would help cover up evidence, including the videos.
In 2007, Kelly and McDavid allegedly agreed to pay another victim $250,000 to return a tape showing Kelly abusing her and “Minor 1”, and paid her and another unnamed individual another $100,000 each to help return other tapes.
In June 2008, Kelly allegedly learned an unnamed individual was planning a press conference to announce he had tapes of Kelly sexually assaulting children. Kelly allegedly paid that person $170,000 to cancel the press conference.
Kelly also allegedly used physical abuse, threats of violence, and blackmail to maintain control over his victims and prevent them from talking to law enforcement.
McDavid pleaded not guilty Friday morning, and he was released on $500,000 bond.
Brown is due to make his first court appearance on July 19.
Sex Trafficking Charges In New York
The federal indictment unsealed Friday charges Kelly with five felony counts, including racketeering and Mann Act violations, which involve transporting a person across state lines to engage in illegal sexual activity. The racketeering case also accuses him of kidnapping, sexual exploitation of a child, and forced labor.
Federal prosecutors said Kelly and his managers, bodyguards, and other employees acted as a criminal enterprise to recruit women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with Kelly. Kelly and his enterprise would pick out women and girls who attended his concerts and other events; and arranged for them to travel to see Kelly. He would later hold them against their will, according to the feds.
Once the women and girls Kelly had picked started staying with him, he and his employees would set rules his victims had to follow, including not leaving their rooms without Kelly’s permission, even to eat or go to the bathroom; not looking at other men; to wear baggy clothing whenever they weren’t with him; calling him “Daddy.” — even to eat or go to the bathroom — without Kelly’s permission, calling the singer “Daddy;” and demanding absolute commitment to Kelly.
Kelly allegedly coerced some of the girls he’d abused to engage in sexually explicit conduct on video, which he later had shipped across state lines. The feds also said he didn’t inform his victims that he had a sexually transmitted disease.
The indictment alleges that the criminal acts date back to 1999. Through the recent documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly,” federal authorities in New York realized some of his acts happened there.
“It wasn’t until the docuseries put again a spotlight on this type of activity that our agents assigned to the trafficking in persons unit – that are very experienced – decided to take a hard look at it,” said Angel Melendez, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New York. “One of the victims that was included in the indictment, as recent as last year, was brought here to New York so he could carry out his nefarious sexual acts with her, including not informing her of a sexually transmitted disease.”
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Cook County Charges
Kelly has already been charged with over 20 counts of sexual abuse in Cook County. He was first charged in February with 10 counts of sexual abuse involving four females, including three children. In May, he was charged with an additional 11 felony counts involving one of those victims, identified only as JP.
According to the May indictment, R. Kelly engaged in sex acts with JP in January 2010 “by the use of force or threat of force and … acted in such a manner as to threaten or endanger the life of JP.”
The Cook County charges include aggravated criminal sex assault, criminal sex assault and aggravated criminal sex abuse. The four aggravated criminal sex assault charges are class X felonies and carry prison terms of up to 30 years if he’s convicted.
Kelly pleaded not guilty to the most recent Cook County charges in a June court hearing.
In the February indictment, prosecutors said Kelly sexually abused four females, including three girls. Kelly allegedly had a witness make sex tapes of him having sex with one of the victims, a 14-year-old girl.
Allegations of Kelly’s sexual abuse go back decades and have prompted a recent nationwide protest called #MuteRKelly to boycott his music, in the wake of a Lifetime documentary, “Surviving R. Kelly,” featuring interviews with the music artist’s alleged accusers.
In 2008, Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges connected to a videotape of him allegedly having sex with an underage girl. It took six years from the time Kelly was charged with the offense to the end of the trial. It took the jury less than a day to deliberate.
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