U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber's decision means that R. Kelly will remain in custody when he's taken to New York City to face a separate indictment alleging the sexual abuse of underage girls

By Claudia Harmata
July 16, 2019 03:25 PM
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Credit: JASON WAMBSGANS/AFP/Getty

A Chicago judge has reportedly ordered R. Kelly to be held in jail without bond on Tuesday.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the singer is being held on federal charges alleging that he paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to recover tape recordings of himself having sex with minors, and also that he pressured witnesses to change their stories before testifying at the Cook County pornography trial that ended in an acquittal in 2008. Kelly pled not guilty to the charges.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber’s decision means that Kelly will remain in custody when he’s taken to New York City to face a separate indictment alleging the sexual abuse of underage girls.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, a federal prosecutor described Kelly, 52, as “an extreme danger to the community, especially to minor girls,” while an assistant U.S. attorney added that Kelly “has a unique ability to influence and intimidate witnesses and victims, and that continues to this day.”

Kelly’s lawyer, Steve Greenberg, however, denies that the star poses a flight risk. “Unlike his most famous song — ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ — Mr. Kelly doesn’t like to fly,” Greenberg said. “How could he flee? He has no money. There’s no evidence that he’s a risk to minors at all at this point.”

Neither Greenberg or the U.S. District Attorney’s office have responded to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Kelly has been held in Chicago since Thursday evening, after being arrested on federal charges including child pornography, racketeering and obstruction of justice — per two indictments out of Chicago and New York City. The indictments were confirmed by court documents and his lawyer, who issued a statement via Twitter Friday saying they “look forward to his day in court, to the truth coming out.”

The singer also faces 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.

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The indictment, obtained by PEOPLE, stated that Kelly and his team — including managers, bodyguards and assistants — “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.

He is alleged to have required the women under his watch to follow “numerous rules.” They “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 girls 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.

In addition to this, prosecutors alleged Kelly and his team “paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to victims and witnesses” to ensure they would not cooperate with law enforcement, the Associated Press reported. The Chicago indictment also accused Kelly of using physical abuse, violence and blackmail to “prevent victims from providing evidence to law enforcement.”

Kelly is expected to eventually be extradited to New York to face charges there.