R Kelly walked out of a Chicago jail after posting $100,000 (£75,500) bail that allows him to go free while awaiting trial on charges that he sexually abused four people dating back to 1998, including three underage girls.
Hours earlier, the R&B singer pleaded not guilty to the allegations after spending the weekend behind bars. He said little during the brief arraignment, telling the judge only his name. His lawyers spoke on his behalf.
The singer-songwriter was arrested on Friday on 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse. A judge set bond at $1m, meaning Kelly had to post 10% of that amount to be released. Court records show a 47-year-old woman from the Chicago suburb of Romeoville, Illinois, posted the $100,000 bail and identified herself on the bond slip as “a friend” of Kelly, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Kelly has been trailed for decades by allegations that he sexually assaulted underage girls and women and held some as virtual slaves. He has consistently denied any sexual misconduct and was acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008.
Attorney Michael Avenatti, who said he represents two of Kelly’s accusers, said his legal team gave prosecutors a second video on Monday that showed Kelly sexually abusing a minor. Avenatti previously gave prosecutors video evidence that he said showed Kelly having sex with an underage girl.
Avenatti said the second video involved a 14-year-old girl. He said the footage from 1999 or 2000 was about 55 minutes long, but he did not say if it was the same 14-year-old girl seen in the first video he turned over to the authorities.
Avenatti said he was aware of a third tape, but he did not provide details.
Defence attorney Steve Greenberg reiterated at a news conference that Kelly had done nothing wrong and said no one had shown him any evidence to the contrary.
“Everybody is entitled to a defence. Everybody is entitled to the presumption of innocence. We should all be taking a step back. Let’s see what happens, what the evidence is and how this plays out,” Greenberg said.
Details of the allegations against Kelly emerged on Saturday when the prosecution released four detailed documents – one for each accuser – outlining the basis for the charges. The allegations date back as far as 1998 and span more than a decade.
According to the documents, a girl who attended Kelly’s child pornography trial in 2008 got his autograph after a court session. He later invited her to his home in the Chicago suburb of Olympia Fields, where they had sex multiple times starting the following May, when she was 16. The documents said he also slapped, choked and spat on the girl.
In 1998, another girl reported meeting Kelly at a restaurant where she was having a 16th birthday party. Kelly’s manager gave her the singer’s business card and suggested she call Kelly. The girl’s mother heard the exchange, took the card and told the manager her daughter was 16.
But her daughter later retrieved the card from her handbag. She contacted Kelly, who told her to take a cab to his studio, where they had sex periodically for a year, the documents said. After the first encounter, she was given an envelope of cash.
In early 2003, a Chicago hairdresser told prosecutors that she thought she was going to braid Kelly’s hair, but he pulled down his pants and instead tried to force her to give him oral sex. The woman, who was 24, was able to pull away, but Kelly ejaculated on her and spat in her face, the documents said.
Kelly’s DNA was found in semen on one of the accuser’s shirts, and semen found on a shirt worn by another was submitted for DNA testing, Cook County state’s attorney Kim Foxx said. It was not clear when the accusers turned the shirts over to the authorities.
Rising from poverty on Chicago’s South Side, Kelly broke into the R&B scene in 1993 with his first solo album, 12 Play, which produced such popular sex-themed songs as Your Body’s Callin’ and Bump N’ Grind. He has written numerous hits for himself and other artists, including Celine Dion, Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga.
The jury in 2008 acquitted Kelly of child pornography charges that centred on a graphic video that prosecutors said showed him having sex with a girl as young as 13. He and the girl allegedly seen with him denied they were in the 27-minute video, even though the picture quality was good and witnesses testified it was them, and she did not take the stand.
Each count of the new charges carries up to seven years in prison, making it possible for Kelly to receive up to 70 years. Probation is also an option.
The walls began closing in on Kelly after the release of a BBC documentary about him last year and the multipart Lifetime documentary Surviving R Kelly, which aired last month. Together they detailed allegations that he held women against their will and ran a “sex cult”.
~ Source: theguardian.com