What to Know
- Singer R. Kelly was arrested in Chicago Thursday on two separate federal indictments in Illinois and New York
- The 13-count indictment in Illinois alleges Kelly paid hundreds of thousand of dollars to recover videos of himself in sex acts with minors
- The R&B star has been the subject of different sexual abuse allegations for nearly two decades, with some alleged acts dating back to 1998
Prosecutors allege R. Kelly's enterprise recruited women and girls around the world to engage in illegal sexual activity, that he went to extreme measures to recover videotapes of sex acts with minors and that he interfered with the investigation and 2008 trial in which he was acquitted of child pornography charges, according to two new federal indictments filed in Illinois and New York.
Kelly was arrested on the indictments while walking his dog near his Trump Tower home in Chicago on Thursday night and was expected to appear in court in Chicago for a removal hearing Friday afternoon.
Kelly's attorney Steve Greenberg said in a statement Friday that the singer was "aware of the investigations" into him and that the charges "were not a surprise."
"He and his lawyers look forward to his day in court, to the truth coming out and to the vindication from what has been an unprecedented assault by others for their own personal gain," Greenberg said. "Most importantly he looks forward to being able to continue making wonderful music and perform for his legions of fans that believe in him." [[512633561, C]]
The 13-count indictment filed in Chicago and the five-count indictment in New York contain dozens of allegations of sex crimes, obstruction of justice, child pornography and more. Both indictments specifically address alleged sex crimes against five unnamed minors, though it's not clear if the girls in each indictment are the same as those in the other.
Below are six of the biggest takeaways from the allegations prosecutors made in both indictments.
Prosecutors say Kelly's "enterprise" recruited girls
The New York indictment alleges that Kelly led an "enterprise" consisting of his managers, bodyguards, drivers, personal assistants and runners all engaged in an effort to "recruit women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity" with the singer. Prosecutors say Kelly's enterprise recruited these girls at his performances throughout the U.S. and abroad, with members of his staff inviting women and girls "backstage and to other events," at which point he would identify those "who he wished to see again" and either give them his contact information or obtain theirs himself or through his staff. Kelly would then communicate with some of them by phone, text, iMessage and FaceTime, prosecutors say, alleging he would often request that they provide him with photographs of themselves. Then, authorities say he and his crew would arrange for them to travel to see him at events like concerts, where staff would allegedly both take measures to keep them from interacting with one another, and position them so that Kelly could see them while performing. [[512634132, C]]
Authorities allege Kelly used intimidation and abuse to control victims and employees
Federal prosecutors in both indictments say Kelly engaged in sex acts with minors, with the New York indictment alleging he did not disclose a sexually-transmitted disease in one case, that he demanded "absolute commitment" to him and would not tolerate dissent and that he would isolate the girls from friends and family, making them "dependent on Kelly for their financial wellbeing." The Illinois indictment claims Kelly "used physical abuse, violence, threats of violence, blackmail and other controlling behaviors against victims" to control them and prevent them from working with law enforcement. Authorities also say his control extended to his own staff, in that Kelly would obtain "sensitive information" about associates involved in the operation in order "to maintain control over them" as well, according to the New York indictment.
Kelly had "rules" for his alleged victims, prosecutors say
Kelly "promulgated numerous rules that many of his sexual partners were required to follow," the New York indictment reads. First, the girls were "not permitted to leave their room without receiving permission from Kelly, including to eat or go to the bathroom," prosecutors allege. They were "required to wear baggy clothing when they were not accompanying Kelly to an event or unless otherwise instructed," authorities say. The women and girls were not allowed "to look at other men and instead were told to keep their heads down," according to prosecutors, who also claim that they were required to call Kelly "Daddy."
Prosecutors allege extreme measures to recover videotapes
Kelly was indicted in June 2002 on 21 counts of child pornography, and subsequently acquitted in 2008 on all charges related to one video allegedly made with a girl the Illinois indictment identified only as "Minor 1." Prosecutors allege in Thursday's indictment that from 2001 - when Kelly learned that some of the videos in his collection were missing - through as late as 2015, Kelly, his former manager Derrel McDavid (also indicted) and other unnamed associates engaged in an expensive operation to recover said videotapes. Authorities say in 2007, Kelly and McDavid paid a girl identified as "Minor 2" $250,000 to return a tape of Kelly engaged in sex acts with her and Minor 1. Later that same year, prosecutors claim the two again paid Minor 2, as well as another unnamed person, $100,000 each for their efforts to recover more videos. Prosecutors say Kelly and McDavid directed Minor 2 and two others to take polygraph examinations about whether or not they had returned all copies of the videotapes in question. [[504323662, C]]
Kelly accused of interfering with investigation and 2008 trial
Prosecutors in the Illinois indictment make multiple allegations under an obstruction of justice charge that Kelly and McDavid used several methods to "intimidate, threaten, pressure, persuade and attempt to persuade" several minors, including the teen at the center of his 2008 trial, as well as her parents, to falsify testimony related to his alleged sex crimes. Authorities allege Kelly forced Minor 1 to lie to police in December 2000, and that McDavid told her father in 2002 to lie to a Cook County grand jury and deny that the video in question depicted his daughter. At the same time, prosecutors say Kelly persuaded Minor 1 and another minor with whom he had engaged in sex acts, to both lie to the grand jury as well. Earlier in 2002, prosecutors allege Kelly and McDavid arranged for Minor 1 and her parents to travel out of the country so as to make them "unavailable to law enforcement investigating" their relationship and the video in question. Prosecutors say Kelly and McDavid also persuaded another girl to deny engaging in sex acts with Kelly to an attorney in 2007. In 2008, prosecutors say Kelly and others paid an unnamed individual $170,000 to cancel a press conference in which the person planned to announce he had found more videos of Kelly engaging in sex acts with minors. [[238427591, C]]
Authorities allege Kelly paid the girl at the center of his 2008 trial, and her family
The Illinois indictment alleges that for 15 years Kelly made payments to and bought gifts for Minor 1 - the girl at the center of his 2008 trial - and her parents in an effort "to make them conceal her relationship with him and the existence of the videos" of him engaged in sex acts with her. In September 2008, Kelly allegedly paid Minor 1's father $30,000, authorities say. Years later, the singer allegedly transferred the title for a GMC Yukon Denali from one of his companies to Minor 1, according to prosecutors. From January 2014 to October 2015, Kelly allegedly also made monthly payments to Minor 1 with "settlement" or something similar in the transaction line, prosecutors said. The indictment alleges Kelly cut a $1,150 check from his business to Minor 1 in October 2014 with the note "Personal - RK" and one year later issued a wire payment for the same amount with the note "settlement payment."