R. Kelly Sexual Assault Case Dropped by Cook County Prosecutors, Singer Already Facing Decades in Prison

By
R. Kelly
Kamil Krzaczymski/AFP via Getty Images

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx will be dropping four indictments accusing R. Kelly of sexual abuse and assault, with the disgraced singer already facing decades in prison following two separate convictions on federal charges.

A status hearing in Kelly's cases in Cook County is scheduled for Tuesday, but on Monday afternoon, Foxx announced her office "will no longer be pursuing these indictments."

Kelly's defense attorney declined comment.

The indictments were filed against Kelly in February 2019, but have languished as federal prosecutors in Chicago and New York moved forward more quickly with other sex crime cases against the singer, and the COVID-19 pandemic caused significant delays for courts across the country.

The charges date back as far as 1998. Illinois has no statute of limitations on child sex abuse charges. Nine of the counts against Kelly specify the victim was between 13 and 16. One count did not specify any ages. In the one case in which the victim was not identified as a minor, Kelly is accused of forcing sexual contact on the victim by use of force or the threat of force.

The charges identify the victims only by initials, and the dates of the alleged abuse:

  • H.W. (13-16 years of age), victim of four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse between May 26, 1998, and May 25, 1999;
  • J.P. (13-16 years of age), victim of three counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse between May 1, 2009, and Jan. 31, 2010;
  • R.L. (13-16 years of age), victim of two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse between Sept. 26, 1998, and Sept. 25, 2001;
  • L.C. (no age given), victim of one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse on Feb. 18, 2003.

Kelly, 56, likely already will spend the rest of his life in prison, as he is already facing a 30-year prison sentence following a 2021 racketeering conviction in federal court New York, and decades more behind bars following his conviction in federal court in Chicago on charges of child pornography and enticing minors to engage in sex.

In September 2021, a federal jury convicted Kelly of all counts after a six-week trial on racketeering and sex trafficking charges in New York. Several women, underage at the time, accused Kelly of using them for perverse and sadistic whims. Those allegations included taking some across state lines for sex acts.

Kelly was found guilty of a racketeering charge. It was one count, but lists 14 underlying acts including kidnapping, forced labor, sex trafficking, and bribery. The government had to prove at least two of the 14. Kelly was also charged with eight counts of violating the Mann Act, which makes it illegal to transport anyone across state lines for any immoral purpose.

The prosecution argued Kelly ran an enterprise of assistants, bodyguards and others, all used to recruit, groom and exploit underage girls, boys, and young women for his own sexual gratification.

Among the claims detailed at trial – his marriage to the late R&B singer Aaliyah, and how a government worker was bribed to get her a fake ID so Kelly could marry the then-15-year-old because he feared he had gotten her pregnant.

Witnesses testified about being locked in rooms and having to ask permission to leave, or use the bathroom. Others alleged Kelly gave them herpes without disclosing he had an STD.

In September 2022, a federal jury in Chicago convicted Kelly of six counts accusing him of sexually abusing his 14-year-old goddaughter "Jane" and other girls on video. The same jury acquitted him of seven other charges, including obstruction of justice, and conspiracy to receive child pornography, accusing him and two associates of rigging his 2008 child pornography trial in Cook County. His two associates, Derrel McDavid and Milton Brown, were acquitted of related charges.

Kelly was convicted of three of four counts accusing him of producing child pornography by filming himself having sex with his underage goddaughter, who testified against him under the pseudonym "Jane." Jurors saw parts of those three videos in court. Jurors acquitted him of a fourth child pornography charge involving a tape that Jane and prosecutors said showed Kelly having a threesome with Jane and his ex-girlfriend, Lisa Van Allen, but that tape was not shown in court. Prosecutors had argued that's because Kelly and his team successfully covered it up.

Jurors acquitted Kelly and McDavid, his former business manager, of a conspiracy to obstruct justice charge that accused them of rigging his 2008 child pornography trial in Cook County by covering up incriminating sex tapes, and intimidating and paying off Jane and her parents to keep his abuse of her secret.

Kelly, McDavid, and Brown also were acquitted of a conspiracy to receive child pornography charge accusing them of trying to retrieve and cover up three sex tapes involving Jane. Kelly and McDavid also were acquitted of two charges of receiving child pornography, involving further claims they tried to retrieve and cover up other videos involving Jane. The government's case on those charges rested in large part on testimony from Charles Freeman and Lisa Van Allen, who defense attorneys described as liars out to extort Kelly for money.

Finally, Kelly was convicted of three of five charges accusing him of enticing minors to engage in sexual activity, but acquitted of two other charges. Jurors convicted him of enticement charges involving Jane, and two other accusers testifying under the pseudonyms "Nia" and "Pauline," while acquitting him of enticement charges involving accusers "Tracy" and "Brittany."

Jane had accused Kelly of sexually abusing her hundreds of times after becoming her godfather when she was only 14 years old. Prosecutors showed the jury three videos that they said showed Kelly having sex with Jane, including one that showed him telling her to lay on the floor while he urinated on her.

Nia had testified she first met Kelly in 1996, when she was only 15 years old, and that they had two sexual encounters, one at a hotel during his concert tour in Minnesota, and another later that year at his music studio in Chicago.

Pauline testified that Jane introduced her to Kelly when she was only 14 years old, and the three soon started having threesomes, before Pauline started her own sexual relationship with Kelly alone when she was 15. She estimated she had sex with Kelly more than 80 times and had 60 threesomes with Kelly and Jane between the ages of 14 and 16.

Tracy testified that she met Kelly in 1999 when she was an off-the-books intern for an Epic Records executive, and claimed that, when she was only 16, Kelly "forced himself" on her at a downtown Chicago hotel. She said the two later developed a sexual relationship that continued beyond her 17th birthday. But defense attorneys cast doubts on her claims, pointing to a past lawsuit she filed against Kelly in which she claimed they met and started having sex in 2000, when she was 17 years old.

Brittany did not testify at trial, and while both Jane and Pauline testified to having threesomes with Kelly and Brittany when they were just girls, defense attorneys seized on the fact Brittany didn't testify herself, asking jurors in closing arguments "Where is Brittany?!"

Kelly is scheduled to be sentenced in that case on Feb. 23. He faces up to 20 years in prison for each of three child pornography convictions in that case, and up to 10 years in prison for each of three counts of enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity.

His trials on the Cook County cases have been delayed for years due both to the COVID-19 pandemic, and his two federal trials.

This story was originally published by CBS Chicago on Jan. 30, 2023. 

RELATED CONTENT:

'Surviving R. Kelly' Returns With 'Final Chapter': Watch the Trailer

R. Kelly Convicted of Six Counts in Federal Trial in Chicago

'Uncountable Times': R. Kelly Witness Gives Testimony of Underage Sex