R. Kelly Arrested in Chicago on Federal Child Pornography and Racketeering Charges
R. Kelly is already facing various state felony charges related to sexual abuse allegations which he has denied
Singer R. Kelly has been arrested on federal charges including child pornography, racketeering and obstruction of justice, indictment documents and his lawyer confirmed.
According to the New York Times, Kelly, 52, was arrested in Chicago on Thursday night over a 13-count indictment from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois. He was arrested by New York Police Department detectives and investigators from the Department of Homeland Security, NBC News reported.
“R. Kelly was arrested in Chicago tonight on charges contained in a 13-count indictment returned today in the Northern District of Illinois,” the attorney’s office said in a statement on Thursday, according to ABC News. “The indictment includes charges of child pornography and obstruction of justice.”
Prosecutors alleged Kelly and his team, including managers, bodyguards and assistants, “paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to victims and witnesses” to ensure they would not cooperate with law enforcement, the Associated Press reports. The Chicago indictment also accused Kelly of using physical abuse, violence and blackmail to “prevent victims from providing evidence to law enforcement.”
The singer has also been hit with a separate five-count indictment from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, which was unsealed on Friday. It includes charges of racketeering and violations of the Mann Act, which “prohibits transporting people across state lines for the purpose of prostitution,” the New York Times reported.
The indictment, obtained by PEOPLE, stated that Kelly, as well as his team, “traveled throughout the United States and abroad to perform at concert venues … and to recruit women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with Kelly” as far back as 1999.
Kelly is then alleged to have required the women to follow “numerous rules” once under his watch. Ladies in Kelly’s company “were not permitted to leave their room without receiving permission, including to eat or go to the bathroom,” were “not permitted to look at other men” and “were required to call Kelly ‘Daddy,'” the documents claimed. The indictment also accused Kelly of “engaging in sexual activity with girl under 18 years old,” failing to disclose “a sexually transmitted disease Kelly had contracted” and producing child pornography by requesting underage girls send him photographs.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s requests for comment. The NYPD declined to comment.
Kelly is expected to be arraigned in court in Chicago on Friday, the Times reported, and will eventually be extradited to New York to face charges there.
In a statement issued via Twitter, Kelly’s lawyer, Steve Greenberg, said that “the conduct alleged appears to largely be the same as the conduct previously alleged against Mr. Kelly in his current State indictment and his former State charges that he was acquitted of. Most, if not all of the conduct alleged, is decades old.”
Continued Greenberg, “Mr. Kelly was aware of the investigations and the charges were not a surprise,” adding that Kelly and his lawyers “look forward to his day in court, to the truth coming out and to his vindication from what has been an unprecedented assault by others for their own personal gain. Most importantly he looks forward to being able to continue making wonderful music and perform for his legions of fans that believe in him.”
Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents three of the women, said in a statement to PEOPLE that she was “very proud of [her] many clients who shared what they allege against Mr. Kelly with investigators and prosecutors.”
“It was very emotional for many of them to relive what they say is the truth about their relationship with Mr. Kelly and others in his business. Many of them decided to speak to law enforcement because they wanted to assist law enforcement in pursuing justice,” Allred said.
“This new indictment is important and I’m glad that the U.S. Department of Justice has committed to investigating this case and ultimately that they made the decision to prosecute Mr. Kelly, because the United States Justice Department has very significant resources to devote to a full and fair nationwide investigation of Mr. Kelly,” she continued.
“Mr. Kelly is in custody. He no longer has the power to intimidate those he has victimized in the past. We look forward to continuing to support victims of Mr. Kelly and I have complete confidence that the truth about the extent and the scope of his victimization of minors will be heard by jurors in a court of law,” Allred went on.
“This is a very positive day for those who allege that they are victims of Mr. Kelly and it is a day that I’m sure that Mr. Kelly hoped would never come,” she added. “Justice, which is long overdue for his victims, will soon be done. I look forward to seeing Mr. Kelly in a court of law in New York.”
The new federal charges come after the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer pleaded not guilty to various state sex-related charges earlier this year.
Last month, Kelly pleaded not guilty to 11 felony sexual abuse counts after he was charged by Cook County prosecutors in Chicago in May. The charges include five counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, and stem from one accuser who claims Kelly abused her in 2009 and 2010, while she was underage.
In February, he was also hit with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against four alleged victims, three of which were specially referred to as under the age of 17. He pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.
An arrest warrant was issued for Kelly in February after the first charges were announced, and he surrendered to Chicago police hours later.
He was released from jail three days later after paying 10 percent of his $1 million bail amount, the Cook County Sheriff confirmed to PEOPLE at the time.
Kelly, who was also the subject of the documentary Surviving R. Kelly earlier this year, has maintained his innocence throughout his legal troubles. After his not guilty plea last month, his lawyer Greenberg said his client is feeling “positive.”
“If you didn’t do it, then you didn’t do it,” he said, according to CBS News. “I think he’s feeling positive. It’s tough. Everything is against him.”
The singer made headlines amid his legal trouble for an emotionally charged interview with Gayle King in early March in which he broke down in tears as he denied the allegations facing him.
“Forget how you feel about me! Hate me if you want to, love me if you want, but use your common sense!” he told King during the CBS This Morning interview. “How stupid would it be for me with my crazy past and what I’ve been through to be like, ‘Oh right now, I think I need to be a monster and hold girls against their will, chain ’em up in my basement and don’t let ’em eat and don’t let ’em out?’”