R. Kelly is expected to appear in federal court in Chicago today for an arraignment on new charges filed against him last week, all of them stemming from longstanding claims of sexual misconduct or abuse, according to multiple news reports. Two women who have lived with him for the past few years, Joycelyn Savage and Azriel Clary — both of whom appeared in Gayle King’s CBS special on the singer earlier this year — are expected to appear as well and voiced support for the singer in a video obtained by TMZ Monday.
“We are just so thankful for everything that you guys are saying and doing and trying to do to help him,” the women said in the video.
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Last week, the singer was indicted on multiple federal charges in Chicago and New York; in the latter case, a separate indictment in Brooklyn accuses him of racketeering and sex trafficking. Kelly has been in jail since he was arrested outside his Trump Tower apartment in Chicago.
In addition to the arraignment, a consolidated detention hearing will be held on both the Illinois and New York indictments. The issue of extradition to New York is expected to be addressed if Kelly is released on bond. Federal prosecutors want the singer to remain in custody.
Kelly has maintained his innocence in these and all previous charges.
The singer could be looking at a minimum of 15 years in prison if he is found guilty, attorney Priya Sopori, a partner at Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP in Los Angeles, told Variety last week.
Of the two indictments unsealed Friday, the Illinois one lists five unnamed female minors who met Kelly in the 1990s, four of whom appeared in videos in which they had sexual contact or engaged in sex acts with the singer.
While Kelly has been accused of sexual misconduct for many years — and was acquitted of child-pornography charges in 2008 — the new charges are federal, and “are considerably more serious than the original state court charges [of which he was acquitted in 2008]. Anyone charged with these crimes is facing considerably more prison time than he otherwise would have,” Sopori explained to Variety.
“Earlier, he was looking at possession of child pornography under state jurisdiction,” she explains. “Now, he’s looking at production of child pornography, which is a federal crime in federal court, and there’s a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison for that crime. So if he’s found guilty of production of child pornography, no judge will have discretion to send him to prison for fewer than 15 years — remember, in federal court, defendants end up serving a very large percentage of their time because there is no early-parole system.”