R. Kelly pleads not guilty to sexual assault charges

R. Kelly pleads not guilty to sexual assault charges

Days after Chicago authorities indicted R. Kelly on 10 charges of aggravated criminal sexual assault against four victims, the R&B singer’s attorney entered a not-guilty plea for all charges Monday. Though accusations of sexual abuse have followed Kelly for decades, he was acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008 and has consistently denied any wrongdoing. “We haven’t seen anything, any reason to believe that these allegations are credible,” Kelly’s attorney Steve Greenberg told reporters Saturday.

On Friday evening, hours after the charges were announced in a press conference by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, Kelly turned himself in to Chicago police. On Saturday, Kelly attended bond court, where the judge set his bond at $1 million — or, $250,000 for each of the four alleged victims. EW has confirmed that on Monday evening, Kelly posted the $100,000 bail and left police custody. Per the Associated Press, a condition of his release is that he is forbidden from having any contact with females under the age of 18.

At the Saturday proceedings, the prosecution also released four documents outlining the basis of their charges against Kelly. The incidents described in the documents span from 1998 to 2010 and involve four victims. Three of them were under 17 and more than five years younger than Kelly at the time of the incidents. The fourth victim was 24 years old at the time of incident, but the document describes Kelly masturbating on her, and Chicago authorities have the shirt she was wearing at the time. “The shirt the victim was wearing was submitted to ISP for DNA testing and semen was identified on the shirt,” the bond proffer document reads. “The male DNA identified in the semen sample is a match for Robert Kelly’s DNA profile.”

Kelly’s arrest comes in the wake of the explosive Lifetime documentary series Surviving R. Kelly, which involved dozens of interviews with people close to Kelly and women who say they were abused by him or saw him abuse other women. Though the more infamous accusations against Kelly involve underage victims, not all the women who allege sexual abuse by him were under the age of consent at the time of the incidents.

In the days before Kelly’s arrest, there were rumors that authorities had possession of a new tape showing the singer performing illegal sexual activities with an underage girl. An infamous tape that allegedly showed Kelly urinating on a young girl formed the basis of his 2008 child pornography trial; Kelly denied it was him on the tape, and was acquitted after the girl said to be on screen refused to testify. Earlier this month, Michael Avenatti (best known as the celebrity lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels in her legal battles with President Donald Trump) said he had given a new tape to Chicago authorities (and CNN). At the same time, longtime R. Kelly reporter Jim DeRogatis wrote in The New Yorker that “a videotape from the R&B superstar R. Kelly’s past may soon lead to his indictment in Illinois, according to a senior law-enforcement official.”

There is a tape described in the prosecution’s documents. One of the charges describes a videotape allegedly featuring Kelly having sex with a young girl, “the victim.” According to the document, the victim repeatedly describes herself as 14 years old. The document also says that “S.E. describes the victim as her niece.” If S.E. stands for Stephanie Edwards, a.k.a the singer Sparkle, it’s possible this is the same tape as the one featured in the 2008 trial, because Sparkle has repeatedly identified the girl in that original tape as her niece. She testified that in court at the time and went into further detail during her appearances in Surviving R. Kelly.

In response to that possibility, Greenberg told reporters Friday after Kelly’s arrest that “Double jeopardy should bar that case. He won that case.” The AP, however, suggested another possibility: “Charging Kelly now for actions that occurred in the same time frame as the allegations from the 2008 trial suggests the accusers are cooperating this time and willing to testify.”

Soon, Kelly might have to deal with more than just Chicago authorities. At a press conference on Friday, Avenatti told reporters that he was confident Kelly would face consequences in “multiple jurisdictions” across the country. The same day, DeRogatis reported in The New Yorker that “a second grand jury has been convened in the Southern District of New York, based on investigations by the F.B.I. and the I.R.S.,” while a Department of Homeland Security task force was looking at convening a third grand jury in the Eastern District of New York. Officials in Fulton County, Ga., are also reopening an investigation into DeRogatis’ previous reporting that Kelly held women captive in a “cult” in his Atlanta properties.