R. Kelly Pleads Not Guilty, Remains Jailed on Sex Abuse Charges
By CBS News
R&B singer R. Kelly walked into a Chicago courtroom on Monday wearing an orange jail jumpsuit for a hearing in his sexual abuse case after spending the weekend in jail as confidants tried to pay $100,000 to get him released. Kelly, one of the best-selling music artists of all time, was arrested late Friday on 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse involving four victims, three of whom were minors. A judge on Saturday set bond at $1 million, requiring the GRAMMY award-winning singer to pay 10 percent.
At Monday's hearing, Kelly's case was assigned to the judge who would preside over the trial, Cook County Associate Judge Lawrence Flood. Kelly clasped his hands behind his back and was not handcuffed during the five-minute hearing, reports CBS News' Jericka Duncan and Cassandra Gauthier. Defense attorney Steve Greenberg said Kelly would enter a plea of not guilty and waived a formal reading of charges. Greenberg told Duncan and Gauthier that Kelly "hopes" to post bond sometime Monday afternoon.
The walls began closing in on Kelly after the release of a BBC documentary about him last year and the multi-part 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."
Last month, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx asked for possible alleged victims of sexual assault or domestic violence by Kelly to come forward after what she called the "deeply, deeply disturbing" allegations outlined in the docu-series.
Speaking on CBS This Morning Monday, filmmaker Dream Hampton, who produced the docu-series, said she didn't expect Kelly to face charges. In a tweet Friday, Hampton said, "The survivors are heroes."
Greenberg has said confidants were making arrangements to pay the $100,000 bail needed to free him as he awaits trial. Kelly told a judge "yes, sir" when reminded that a condition of his bond requires him to have no contact with minors, Duncan and Gauthier report.
Speaking Friday after Kelly's arrest, Greenberg accused the women of "lying" and slammed Foxx for bringing the charges.
"Unfortunately the State's Attorney has now succumbed to public pressure, to pressure from grand-standers like Michael Avenatti and Gloria Allred, and brought these charges. Mr. Kelly is strong. He's got a lot of support, and he's going to be vindicated on all these charges, one by one if it has to be."
Avenatti, who said he represents two Kelly victims, said his legal team will give prosecutors a second video on Monday that he alleges shows Kelly sexually assaulting a minor. The lawyer has said he recently gave prosecutors video evidence of the singer having sex with an underage girl. Avenatti told CBS News this month he got the first tape from someone who knows both Kelly and the alleged victim "extremely well." He described it as a "bombshell of epic proportions."
In arguing for bail within the singer's ability to pay, Greenberg told a judge over the weekend that Kelly wasn't wealthy despite decades of success creating hit songs. The lawyer blamed mismanagement, bad contracts and other issues for his client's financial woes.
There are multiple logistical issues that could have thwarted Kelly's efforts to pay over the weekend, said Joseph Lopez, a criminal defense attorney in Chicago not connected to the Kelly case. He said court officials must be able to talk to bank officials directly to confirm that an amount written on a check is covered, and that's not possible when banks are closed.
"This all happened on Friday. He wasn't really prepared. He was surprised. Then Saturday, by the time we went to bond court, banks were closed," Greenberg told CBS Chicago.
Greenberg also said Kelly owes more than $161,000 in unpaid child support, but that won't have an impact on his ability to bond out of jail.
"They can't hold you in jail on a criminal case because you haven't paid child support. He's going to take care of the child support also. He's been paying child support for years and years. It's only recently he fell he fell a little bit behind," Greenberg told the station.
Records on the Cook County sheriff's website show Kelly is in Division 8 of the county jail, where the medical unit is located but also where inmates considered at risk from the general inmate population are held, Lopez said.
Disturbing details of the allegations against Kelly emerged 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.
A 16-year-old 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, according to the documents, which said he also slapped, choked and spit 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 purse. She contacted Kelly, who gave her instructions and money that she assumed was for the taxi fare to his studio, where they had sex periodically for a year, the documents said.
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 spit in her face, the documents said.
Prosecutors also described a witness who had access to videotapes showing Kelly having sex with a 14-year-old girl. The witness turned a tape over to authorities and identified the girl, who repeatedly stated her age on the footage, according to the documents.
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, Foxx said. It was not clear when the accusers turned the shirts over to authorities — whether it was shortly after the abuse or more recently.
At the bond hearing, Greenberg said his client is not a flight risk. He told the judge, "Contrary to the song, Mr. Kelly doesn't like to fly." One of Kelly's best-known hits is "I Believe I Can Fly."
After the hearing, Greenberg told reporters that Kelly did not force anyone to have sex.
"He's a rock star. He doesn't have to have non-consensual sex," Greenberg said.
The judge ordered Kelly to surrender his passport, ending his hopes of doing a tour of Europe in April. Kelly defiantly scheduled concerts in Germany and the Netherlands despite the cloud of legal issues looming over him. Greenberg denied that any tour was planned.
The recording artist, whose legal name is Robert Kelly, has been trailed for decades by allegations that he violated underage girls and women and held some as virtual slaves. Kelly has consistently denied any sexual misconduct.
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 rose from poverty on Chicago's South Side and has retained a sizable following. Kelly has written numerous hits for himself and other artists, including Celine Dion, Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga.
In 2008, a jury acquitted Kelly of child pornography charges that centered on a graphic video that prosecutors said showed him having sex with a girl as young as 13. He and the young woman 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. Kelly could have been sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Because the alleged victim 10 years ago denied that she was on the video and did not testify, the state's attorney's office had little recourse except to charge the lesser offense under Illinois law, child pornography, which required a lower standard of evidence.
Each count of the new charges carries up to seven years in prison, and the sentences could be served consecutively, making it possible for him to receive up to 70 years. Probation is also an option.
(This story was originally published on CBS News on Feb. 25 at 11:41 a.m. ET)