CHICAGO: Grammy-winning singer R. Kelly was charged on Friday with criminal sexual abuse of at least three teenagers under age 17, the local state’s attorney said, following years of allegations against the 52-year-old R&B singer.
An attorney for the singer did not immediately return a call or email seeking comment.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx, at a news conference in Chicago announcing the charges, said Kelly was expected to appear in court on Saturday for a bond hearing on the 10 counts he was charged with under a grand jury indictment. Three of the four victims he allegedly abused between 1998 and 2010 were under age 17 at the time, Foxx said.
At least two of the alleged victims were girls, while the gender of the other two was not clear from the court documents.
The age of the fourth was not provided. Kelly was accused of sexual misconduct during an attempted sexual assault in that incident.
In the indictments involving the other three alleged victims, Foxx said the grand jury indicted him on charges of aggravated criminal abuse, based on the victims being under 17 and Kelly being more than five years older.
Kelly, whose real name is Robert Kelly, faces three to seven years in prison on each count, Foxx said.
At a news conference in January, Foxx had called for anyone alleging abuse by the singer to come forward so their claims could be investigated. She made the remarks after the six-hour documentary “Surviving R. Kelly” was aired on Lifetime television. In the documentary, multiple women made allegations of sexual misconduct against the performer.
“We are proud that Lifetime was able to provide a platform for survivors to be heard,” the cable network said in a statement following the charges.
Social media erupts
The “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary in January set off a furore on social media. Singer Lady Gaga, who had recorded a duet with Kelly, vowed to never collaborate with him again.
Twitter erupted again on Friday over the latest charges.
“It took this long to indict R.Kelly because the victims are Black girls,” political analyst Zerlina Maxwell, who describes herself as a survivor of sexual assault, wrote on Twitter.
Kelly, singer of “I Believe I Can Fly” and a record producer as well, has for years denied accusations of abuse, including those made in the documentary. In 2008, he was tried and acquitted on child pornography charges in Chicago.
Kelly’s record label, Sony Music-owned RCA, split with the Chicago native last month after activists from the #MuteRKelly pressure group delivered a petition signed by some 217,000 people to Sony headquarters in New York City asking the record company to drop Kelly.
Kelly, a three-time Grammy winner whose hits also include “Bump N’ Grind” and “Your Body’s Callin,” grew up in a Chicago public housing project where, according to his autobiography – “The Soulacaster: The Diary of Me” – he was sexually abused beginning at age 8 by a woman who was 10 years older.
He struggled academically as a boy and dropped out of high school. He later got his musical break on a television talent show and released his first album in 1992.
Separately last month, a former manager for the singer turned himself in to authorities in Georgia, where he was wanted on a charge of making threats against one of the families that took part in the Lifetime documentary.