R. Kelly Arrested on Federal Sex Crime Charges

R. Kelly-Getty-H 2019
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U.S. attorney spokesman Joseph Fitzpatrick says the 13-count indictment includes charges of child pornography, enticement of a minor and obstruction of justice.

Singer R. Kelly has been arrested in Chicago on federal sex crime charges, a U.S. Attorney's office spokesman told The Associated Press. 

U.S. attorney spokesman Joseph Fitzpatrick said the 52-year-old Kelly was arrested Thursday night by NYPD detectives and Homeland Security Investigators. "The counts include child porn, enticement of a minor and obstruction of justice," Fitzpatrick said.

An indictment unsealed Friday in the Eastern District of New York includes charges of racketeering, kidnapping, forced labor and the sexual exploitation of a child. It says Kelly and his managers, bodyguards and other assistants picked out women and girls at concerts and other venues and arranged for them to travel to see Kelly. They also set rules the women and girls had to follow, including not leaving their rooms — even to eat or go to the bathroom — without Kelly's permission, calling the singer "Daddy," and not looking at other men, the indictment alleges.

The indictment alleges that the criminal acts occurred over two decades dating back to 1999, both in the U.S. and overseas. It accuses Kelly of engaging in sexual acts with girls under 18 and without disclosing that he had a sexually transmitted disease. It also accuses him of producing child pornography, including by asking minors to send him photographs.

A separate 13-count indictment filed in Chicago federal court details efforts to cover up sexually explicit videos of Kelly with underage girls. Prosecutors say the defendants paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to victims and witnesses to make sure they wouldn't cooperate with law enforcement. It also accuses Kelly of using physical abuse, violence and blackmail to prevent victims from providing evidence to law enforcement.

The Chicago indictment charges Kelly with child sex crimes, including producing child pornography, and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government. It also names Kelly's business manager and another employee.

On Friday, Kelly's attorney said the singer was arrested by federal agents while walking his dog. "The agents were courteous and professional, as was Mr. Kelly," said Steve Greenberg in a statement. "The charges arose from alleged conduct in the Northern District of Illinois as well as the Eastern District of New York. 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."

Greenberg added in his statement 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."

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website, Kelly is being held at the high-rise Metropolitan Correctional Center, in downtown Chicago.

He was arrested after the indictment was handed down earlier Thursday in federal court for the Northern District of Illinois. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Chicago federal court on Tuesday afternoon.

The R&B singer already faces state sex-related charges in Illinois involving four women, three of whom were minors when the alleged abuse occurred. Last month, Kelly pleaded not guilty during a hearing in Chicago's Cook County court after being charged with aggravated sexual assault via force and threats, among other counts.

Born Robert Sylvester Kelly, the artist was previously charged in February with aggravated sexual abuse involving four victims, including at least three between the ages of 13 and 17. A jury in 2008 acquitted the singer of child pornography charges after a video allegedly featuring Kelly having sex with a girl as young as 13 was released. Kelly had faced 15 years in prison for that charge, but the young woman in that claim did not testify and did not confirm it was her in the video. 

The singer's controversial past was also revisited with the Lifetime series Surviving R. Kelly, which drew a big audience for Lifetime, averaging 2.1 million viewers for its initial airing and growing on each of the three nights it aired. Following the documentary's success, the network announced in April that it will have a follow-up special, Surviving R. Kelly: The Impact. The follow-up will examine how the three-part series, which aired in January, affected the conversation about sexual violence and popular culture at large.

July 12, 6:50 a.m. Updated with Kelly attorney statement.