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The Allegations Against R. Kelly: An Abridged History

Jan 11, 2019
Originally published on August 5, 2019 4:19 pm

Updated Aug. 5 at 5:15 p.m. ET

R. Kelly is no stranger to unsettling allegations.

The R&B superstar born Robert Kelly ushered in 2019 dogged by a slew of damaging headlines — prompted by TV's Surviving R. Kelly. But the roots of the broad case laid out in the six-part Lifetime docuseries, filled as it is with claims of abuse and statutory rape, date back about a quarter century at least.

Kelly has been the subject of investigations, indictments, lawsuits and disavowals — and through it all, he has asserted that he has not committed any wrongdoing.

What follows is an attempt to explain how 25 years of controversy led to this moment. Not every notable date is included in this timeline. In particular, the many lawsuits against Kelly — beginning in the mid-1990s and continuing through the present day — have been left out for the sake of clarity.

Jump to the story behind a specific date by clicking on the date in the list below, or simply scroll down to begin at the beginning.

  • Aug. 31, 1994: R. Kelly, then 27 years old, marries Aaliyah, then 15
  • Dec. 21, 2000: Chicago Sun-Times prints first allegations of sex with minors
  • Feb. 8, 2002: Chicago police reveal investigation into alleged child pornography
  • June 5, 2002: Kelly indicted on 21 counts of child pornography
  • May 9, 2008: Trial begins in Kelly's case in Chicago
  • June 13, 2008: Kelly is acquitted on all counts
  • July 17, 2017: BuzzFeed publishes stories of women in Kelly's alleged sex "cult"
  • July 23, 2018: Kelly releases 19-minute song, "I Admit"
  • Oct. 4, 2018: Kelly's ex-wife accuses him of physical abuse
  • Jan. 3, 2019: Lifetime begins airing Surviving R. Kelly docuseries
  • January 2019: Popular pressure on R. Kelly escalates
  • January-February 2019: More accusers tell their stories publicly
  • Feb. 22, 2019: Kelly is charged on 10 counts of sexual abuse
  • March 6, 2019: Kelly is arrested again — this time for failure to pay child support
  • March 9-10, 2019: Kelly is freed from jail again; Gloria Allred alleges existence of another tape with underage girls
  • May 30, 2019: Kelly is charged a second time in Illinois on new sexual assault and abuse charges
  • June 6, 2019: Kelly pleads not guilty to new charges
  • July 12, 2019: Federal prosecutors unseal new indictments against Kelly in Illinois and New York
  • July 16, 2019: Kelly pleads not guilty to the Illinois federal charges; judge orders him held without bond
  • Aug. 2, 2019:Kelly pleads not guilty to the New York federal charges; judge denies him bail
  • Aug. 5, 2019: Prosecutors in Hennepin County, Minn. file two criminal charges against Kelly


Aug. 31, 1994

R. Kelly, then 27 years old, briefly marries Aaliyah, then 15

The secret ceremony in Chicago comes less than a year after R. Kelly's debut solo album landed in the Billboard 200 — and less than six months after Kelly produced Aaliyah's debut album, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number.

That title would prove apt: As the magazine Vibe reveals just months later, the official Illinois wedding certificate falsified Aaliyah's age, listing Kelly's young protégée as 18. (Demetrius Smith, a former tour manager and personal assistant to R. Kelly, later told the Surviving R. Kelly team that he had documents forged for the two and that Aaliyah appeared to be scared at the ceremony.)

Within months, the marriage is annulled, but it remains a subject of frequent questions — both for Aaliyah, who dies in a plane crash in 2001, and for Kelly, who has described their relationship as "deep friends" but has avoided commenting further.

"Well, because of Aaliyah's passing, as I've always said, out of respect for her mother who's sick and her father who's passed, I will never have that conversation with anyone. Out of respect for Aaliyah, and her mother and father who has asked me not to personally," he told GQ in 2016. "But I can tell you I loved her, I can tell you she loved me, we was very close."

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Dec. 21, 2000

Chicago Sun-Times prints the first allegations of sex with minors

The singer is about to turn 34 when Chicago Sun-Times reporters Jim DeRogatis and Abdon M. Pallasch publish a story alleging that Kelly is using his fame to meet girls as young as 15 years old and then coerce them into having sex with him. At least two of those girls say that they met him at Kenwood Academy, a public high school on Chicago's South Side that Kelly had attended before dropping out and where he is alleged to have returned again and again to pick up young women.

According to the Sun-Times, by this point Chicago police have investigated Kelly twice on suspicion of having sex with an underage girl but dropped the investigations because the girl wouldn't cooperate. The article also notes, "Kelly is hardly the first celebrity to be accused of taking advantage of underage girls. Gary Glitter, Rob Lowe, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roman Polanski, Rolling Stone Bill Wyman and even the legendary Errol Flynn all have been written about in this paper and others for allegedly having trysts with minors."

The Sun-Times report is published within weeks of Kelly — who has already sold more than 20 million albums — releasing his fifth album, TP-2.com, which goes to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart.

R. Kelly performs at the Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards in September 2000, just three months before the Chicago Sun-Times' first article in what would become its nearly two decades of coverage of the allegations.
Kevin Winter / ImageDirect/Getty Images

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Feb. 8, 2002

Chicago police reveal investigation into alleged child pornography

Draped in a star-spangled robe and surrounded by tens of thousands of screaming fans, R. Kelly appears to be hitting a high note in his career: performing as part of the opening ceremony for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

The very same day, more than 1,000 miles away, things begin heading in a very different direction for the singer, as Chicago police reveal they have opened an investigation into an approximately three-year-old videotape that purports to show him having sex and engaging in a variety of lewd acts with an underage girl. (Despite the alleged age of the girl in the video, Kelly would not be charged with statutory rape.)

Kelly quickly and vehemently denies that it is him in the video, which appears to show him with a girl who would have been in her early teens at the time of the filming. The video had been sent anonymously to the Chicago Sun-Times, which had published child sex allegations against the singer nearly two years earlier.

R. Kelly performs at the opening ceremony of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. That very same day, Feb. 8, the Chicago police revealed their investigation into allegations that the singer had filmed himself having sexual relations with an underage girl.
Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images

"It's crap, and that's how we're going to treat it," Kelly says in an interview held with a local TV station before his Olympic performance.

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June 5, 2002

Kelly indicted on 21 counts of child pornography

Just four months after the police probe is revealed, R. Kelly finds himself in handcuffs outside his holiday home in Florida.

A grand jury in Cook County, Ill., has indicted Kelly on 21 counts of child pornography related to the videotape. The charges include seven counts each of directing the taping, producing the video and enticing the underage girl into performing illicit acts.

"Sexual predators are a scourge on society," Cook County State's Attorney Richard Devine says in a statement released on June 5. "This indictment should send a clear message that illicit acts with minor children will not be tolerated in the community."

One day later, Kelly is formally charged in a Florida courtroom.

That state would also charge Kelly with an additional 12 counts of creating child pornography, alleging that during his arrest, police found a camera with new images showing sex with an underage girl. Those charges would be dropped after a judge found that the camera was improperly seized. Seven of the original 21 charges in Chicago would also eventually be dropped in 2004, after prosecutors acknowledged that those counts pertained to a law that wasn't passed until after the alleged taping.

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May 9, 2008

Trial begins in Kelly's case in Chicago

After posting bail in 2002, Kelly spends the next six years continuing to perform as his lawyers wrangle with prosecutors on his behalf. During this stretch, he continues headlining tour stops and recording new music — even snagging six Grammy nominations. More than half a decade passes before his trial begins.

"The case has dragged on for seemingly bizarre reasons," Time magazine reporter Steven Gray explained to NPR in 2008. "Just last December, R. Kelly failed to make a scheduled court appearance because his tour bus was stopped speeding by Utah authorities and he couldn't make it to court the next day. One time, Judge Gaughan, the presiding judge, he fell off a ladder and hurt himself so he was out for a while. Another time ... one of the prosecutors had a baby, so that also caused them postponement."

The trial begins in late spring. If convicted on all charges, Kelly faces the prospect of 15 years in prison.

An artist's rendering shows R. Kelly watching in court as prosecutors play the sex tape at the center of his 2008 child pornography trial in Chicago, just hours after opening statements in which they accused the R&B singer of choreographing and starring in the footage with an underage girl.
L.D. Chukman / AP

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June 13, 2008

Kelly is acquitted on all counts

Arguments in court take about three weeks. The defense asserts that neither Kelly nor the alleged victim appear in the tape. Although multiple witnesses identify the girl on the tape — including family members, friends and a basketball coach — neither the girl nor her parents testify.

"That's another thing that the defense is arguing that, 'Look, this is all about money and extortion. The family never went to the police, and there was an aunt who was a police officer. They went to a lawyer for money,' " WBEZ's Natalie Moore recounts after closing arguments.

The jury spends less than a day in deliberation before returning its verdict: not guilty. Kelly walks out of the Chicago courtroom a free man, sliding silently into his car as supporters cheer around him. (One of his later alleged victims, Jerhonda Pace, says she met the singer at that time, when she was in her mid-teens, having skipped school to support him at court.)

R. Kelly leaves the Cook County criminal court in Chicago on June 13, 2008, greeting supporters and onlookers after a jury found him not guilty on all counts in his child pornography trial.
Nam Y. Huh / AP

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July 17, 2017

BuzzFeed publishes stories of women in Kelly's alleged sex "cult"

Written by Chicago reporter Jim DeRogatis — who has at this point been working on stories regarding R. Kelly-related allegations for the better part of two decades — the BuzzFeed investigation highlights the anguish of the parents of one young woman, "J." They allege that their daughter, age 19 when she met Kelly, has been drawn into a "cult" of women living with and totally controlled by the singer.

DeRogatis includes corroborative details from three women who knew Kelly well: Cheryl Mack, who worked for about a year and a half as a personal assistant for the singer beginning in 2013, as well as Kitti Jones and Asante McGee, two of Kelly's ex-girlfriends who both lived with Kelly in the alleged "cult."

These three women say that at the time the BuzzFeed article was published, six women lived with Kelly in Chicago and the suburbs of Atlanta and that Kelly "controls every aspect of their lives: dictating what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep, and how they engage in sexual encounters that he records." Jones also says that Kelly beat her. (Both Jones and McGee later appear in the Surviving R. Kelly docuseries and elaborate on their earlier allegations. Jones was 33 when she met Kelly; McGee was 35.)

R. Kelly performs at Bass Concert Hall in Austin, Texas, in March 2017. He has kept an ardently loyal fan base in some quarters despite years of allegations.
Gary Miller / Getty Images

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July 23, 2018

Kelly releases 19-minute song, "I Admit"

He admits nothing.

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Oct. 4, 2018

Kelly's ex-wife accuses him of physical abuse

Andrea Kelly, who met R. Kelly when she was 19, was married to him from 1996 to 2009. She appears on the daytime talk show The View to allege that he abused her physically on multiple occasions, including choking her. She filed for a restraining order in 2005 and alleges that he hit her when she asked for a divorce. She also says that she considered suicide.

According to Andrea Kelly, she and the singer were already living apart by the time he stood trial in Chicago. She tells The View that her impetus to come forward publicly was hearing another woman make allegations on another show — explaining that the woman seemed to be speaking about her ex-husband without using his name, as the accusations seemed to mirror her own history with Kelly: "Some of the specific things she described in detail, I had been through, I mean, verbatim." (Andrea Kelly also appears in Surviving R. Kelly.)

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Jan. 3, 2019

Lifetime begins airing Surviving R. Kelly docuseries

Building on the reporting done by DeRogatis and others, producers of the Surviving R. Kelly docuseries speak to more than 50 people — including two of Kelly's siblings, his ex-wife, former employees and mentees, journalists, psychologists and several of his accusers — in a survey of allegations against Kelly dating back to the early 1990s. NPR TV critic Eric Deggans writes, "All of the women who say in the docuseries that they were abused by Kelly have previously made public allegations against the singer, but Surviving R. Kelly's power comes in hearing their stories told on camera, and all together."

In early December, about a month before the series begins airing, a preview screening of the program and a panel discussion featuring several of Kelly's accusers in Manhattan is evacuated after multiple anonymous threats are called in to the venue.

Chance the Rapper appears in the series' final episode and apologizes for having worked with R. Kelly on multiple occasions in recent years, despite the common knowledge of the accusations against the singer. After the series begins airing, Chance elaborates on Twitter: "The truth is any of us who ever ignored the R Kelly stories, or ever believed he was being setup/attacked by the system (as black men often are) were doing so at the detriment of black women and girls. I apologize to all of his survivors for working with him and for taking this long to speak out."

Kitti Jones, a former girlfriend of the singer, tells her story in Surviving R. Kelly. Jones discussed her allegations in an interview with Rolling Stone in October 2017.
Courtesy of Lifetime

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January 2019

Popular pressure on R. Kelly escalates

Public pressure continues to mount against Kelly, though he has kept an ardently loyal fan base in some quarters. Though his music is still played on radio stations and appears on streaming services, the artist himself is increasingly under fire for his past conduct.

On Jan. 9, activists gather outside Kelly's Chicago studio to protest and urge prosecutors to investigate the singer in the wake of Surviving R. Kelly.

Also this week, the Chicago Sun-Times reports that at least two women have contacted Foxx's office with complaints regarding Kelly since she made her appeal. Pop star Lady Gaga publicly apologizes via Twitter for having made a 2013 duet with R. Kelly called "Do What U Want" (the chorus goes, "Do what you want with my body").

A demonstrator holds up a sign at a protest outside the singer's Chicago studio in January 2019, just days after the start of the Lifetime docuseries Surviving R. Kelly.
Scott Olson / Getty Images

"I stand behind these women [in the docuseries] 1000% percent," she writes, adding: "I think it's clear how explicitly twisted my thinking was at the time."

On Jan. 10, Kelly's estranged daughter, Buku Abi (whose birth name is Joann Kelly), posts a lengthy note to her Instagram stories responding to the docuseries — a note in which she calls her father a "monster."

"Going through all I have gone through in my life, I would never want anyone to feel the pain I have felt," she writes. "The same monster you all [are] confronting me about is my father. I am well aware of who and what he is."

On Jan. 16, protesters gather in New York City at the offices of RCA Records and Sony Music Entertainment (RCA's corporate owner) to deliver what they say are over 217,000 signatures on a petition asking the label to drop Kelly. RCA does not respond to NPR's request for comment.

Yet the very same week, on Jan. 18, Billboard reports that RCA has agreed to cut ties with Kelly. The embattled superstar had maintained his recording contracts throughout the previous controversies, including the child pornography trial. Now, though, RCA decides to distance itself from him.

"This is a huge victory for the survivors who came forward, both in Surviving R. Kelly and before, and all young Black women, who are systematically undervalued in our society," Arisha Hatch of Color for Change, one of the groups part of the #MuteRKelly campaign, says in a statement. "This victory belongs to the survivors of his abuse — their brave testimonies played a critical role in pushing RCA to drop R. Kelly."

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Buku Abi's Instagram story denounces her father, R. Kelly, calling him a "monster."
Instagram


January — February 2019

More accusers come forward

On Jan. 8, Kim Foxx, the state's attorney for Cook County, Ill., holds a press conference to ask possible victims of domestic violence or sexual assault by the singer to come forward so that her office can start an investigation. CBS 2 in Chicago reports that Foxx says of the series, "I was sickened by the allegations. I was sickened as a survivor. I was sickened as a mother. I'm sickened as a prosecutor." (Additionally, there are unconfirmed reports that Fulton County, Georgia, is opening its own investigation.)

On Jan. 14, alleged victim Faith Rodgers appears at a press conference in New York City, saying that Kelly threatened to retaliate against her after she filed a civil suit against him in the New York Supreme Court. Those threatened retaliations, according to Rodgers, included him sharing private photos of her and saying that he would bring forward 10 male witnesses to testify "about her sex life."

Attorney Lydia Hills, who represents Rodgers, says at the press conference that attached to a notarized and signed letter Kelly sent to her in response to the suit were several photos of Rodgers and text that "indicated that if Ms. Rodgers proceeded with the lawsuit, these photos would be made public."

Rochelle Washington (left) cries as Latresa Scaff details their sexual misconduct accusations against R. Kelly during a news conference in New York on Feb. 21.
Seth Wenig / AP

Rodgers is also represented by attorney Gloria Allred, who, in turn, works for two other women who allege that they were victims of Kelly — one of whom was underage at the time of the alleged abuse. Allred adds that on Jan. 14, Rodgers will be speaking with the New York Police Department, which, the lawyer says, is conducting an investigation into the singer.

On Jan. 18, NBC News announces that it will be airing an interview that evening with one of Kelly's accusers, a woman named Tracy Sampson, who says that Kelly began abusing her in 1999, when she was 16 years old and an intern at Epic Records, a label that, like RCA, is a subsidiary of Sony.

Sampson has come forward previously with her allegations; in a May 2018 interview with the Washington Post, she said that she filed a lawsuit against Kelly in 2002 and that it was settled for $250,000. According to the Post, Sampson tried to cultivate a career afterward in artist management, but, the newspaper wrote, she "gave up because she was told her dispute with Kelly had poisoned her reputation."

Distributed by Gloria Allred

Speaking to NBC, an attorney for Kelly, Steven Greenberg, denies any wrongdoing with Sampson or any other women.

On Feb. 21, two more women — both also represented by Allred — come forward with claims that Kelly made sexual advances on them when they were underage, back in the mid-1990s. One of the women, Latresa Scaff, says Kelly had sex when she was 16 and intoxicated on alcohol and marijuana.

"I did not have the capacity to consent," Scaff says.

Kelly's attorney dismissed the allegations on Twitter the next day.

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Feb. 22, 2019

Kelly is charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse

In Illinois, the Cook County state's attorney, Kimberly Foxx, announces a 10-count indictment against Kelly on charges of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. The charges involve four victims, in alleged incidents that span from 1998 to 2010. Three of the four victims in the indictment were under the age of 17 at the time of the alleged incidents.

Kelly is arrested that evening; the following day, a judge sets his bond at $1 million — $250,000 per alleged victim. The judge also takes away his passport and orders that he not have contact with any of the alleged victims or anyone under the age of 18.

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Feb. 25, 2019

Kelly pleads not guilty and is released on bail

The singer's attorney, Steve Greenberg, enters a not guilty plea on all 10 charges.

Initially unable to post $100,000 (or 10 percent of the bond) as bail, R. Kelly is jailed for three nights. After he is freed on this day, a Monday, he stops off at a McDonald's in Chicago — the same at which he would allegedly cruise for young girls in decades past.

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In this courtroom sketch, R. Kelly, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, appears before Judge Lawrence Flood at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago. Kelly's attorney, Steve Greenberg, entered not guilty pleas on the singer's behalf on Feb. 25.
Tom Gianni / AP


March 6, 2019

Kelly is arrested again — this time for failure to pay child support; CBS airs interview with the singer

Just over a week after the singer was released on bail, he finds himself in court again, though for a different reason. After a hearing in Chicago, he is taken back into custody for failing to pay over $160,000 he owes to his ex-wife and their three children.

The Cook County Sheriff's Department announces that he will remain in jail until the debt is paid. He is expected back in court on child-support related matters on March 13.

The arrest comes just hours after CBS' This Morning airs clips of his first interview since the 10-count indictment was announced. In the interview, Kelly tells co-host Gayle King that he is innocent, and that his accusers are making up their claims for their own gain.

R. Kelly goes through security before his hearing in Chicago. Just over a week after the singer was released on bail, Kelly was once more taken into custody, this time for failing to pay more than $160,000 in child support.
Nuccio DiNuzzo / Getty Images

"I'm very tired of all of the lies," he says. "I've been hearing things, and you know, and seeing things on the blogs, and you know — you know, I'm just tired."

Kelly denies the crimes attributed to him and pushes back against the allegations laid out in Surviving R. Kelly: "They was describing Lucifer. I'm not Lucifer. I'm a man. I make mistakes, but I'm not a devil, and by no means am I a monster."

He accuses his own accusers of seeking to profit from the allegations. And at times during the emotional conversation, Kelly breaks into tears, even standing and shouting his vehement defense at the camera until the show paused filming.

"Thirty years of my career! And y'all trying to kill me? You're killing me, man!" he says, slamming his fist in his palm before people on set calm him down. "This is not about music! I'm trying to have a relationship with my kids! And I can't do it! Y'all just don't want to believe the truth! You don't want to believe it!"

The families of a couple of R. Kelly's alleged victims issue responses quickly after the interview airs. This includes the Alice and Angelo Clary, who say their 21-year-old daughter, Azriel, has been effectively brainwashed and controlled by Kelly.

"All of the victims and parents cannot be lying," they say in a statement tweeted by attorney Michael Avenatti, noting that they "have never received a penny from R. Kelly."

The Savages, too, deny that they've received any money related to their 23-year-old daughter Joycelyn's current relationship with the singer.

"We care about your well-being. We went from seeing you or talking to you daily or weekly to not seeing you in two years," JonJelyn Savage says at a news conference the same day, addressing her distant daughter directly. "So that is a clear indication to us — and as a mother — there's something definitely wrong with this situation. And we won't stop until we have our answers and make sure your well-being is OK, and that you're safe and sound."

On Thursday, CBS This Morning airs more of the King interview. In this footage, Kelly denies that he has ever paid out any settlements to any women, despite court documents indicating that he has paid money to three women who say they had sex with him as minors.

He also again denies abuse allegations made by his ex-wife, Andrea Kelly, and screams and weeps when King asked him about the outstanding child-support payments. He shouts: "How can I pay child support — how — if my ex-wife is destroying my name and I can't work? ... What kind of woman would tear down a dad who's trying to have a relationship with their kids?" He admits to King, however, that he has "zero" contact with their three children.

He also asserts to King, "So many people have been stealing my money," but also tells King that he had not stepped foot in a bank by himself until about three to four weeks ago, and that he does not understand where his money or royalties have gone.

The Thursday broadcast also includes further footage interviews with Joycelyn Savage and Azriel Clary, who are both currently living with Kelly. The women say that they have not been brainwashed, that they are happy and that they are both in love with him.

An angry Clary makes her own stunning claim against her parents, saying that they encouraged her to make sexual videos with Kelly when she was just 17, in order to blackmail the singer at some future point, and says that her parents had specifically asked for $30,000 from Kelly.

Savage adds: "Our parents are basically just out here trying to get money and scam."

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R. Kelly, leaving Cook County jail in Chicago on March 9.
Derek Henkle / AFP/Getty Images


March 9-28, 2019

Kelly is freed from jail again; Gloria Allred alleges existence of another tape

On March 9, Kelly is released from prison in Illinois. The AP and other media outlets report that an anonymous person has paid the Cook County Sheriff's Office the full amount of the back child care support the singer owes, totaling more than $160,000. "I promise you, we're going to straighten all this stuff out," Kelly says to a group of journalists.

On March 10, attorney Gloria Allred holds a press conference in New York with a client, a Pennsylvania man named Gary Dennis. Dennis says that in cleaning out an old VHS collection, he stumbled across a tape marked "R. Kelly" that appears to show the singer sexually abusing underage girls. Allred claims that the tape shows a separate incident than the one that Illinois prosecutors are currently using as evidence in their 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against Kelly, and that the tape has been turned over to federal law enforcement.

Another woman named in the Illinois indictment comes forward publicly

On March 28, Lanita Carter, one of the four women named (as "L.C.") in the February indictment filed by the Cook County state attorney, gives an interview to CBS This Morning. She says that on Feb. 18, 2003, when she was 24 years old, she arrived at Kelly's home to braid his hair, a job she had been doing for him for more than a year. She claims that he then grabbed her hair and tried to force her into performing oral sex; when she refused and shielded her face, he began spitting on her repeatedly. She says she called the police the same day, and that they took her shirt, reportedly with Kelly's semen on it, as evidence. At the time, charges were not filed against Kelly.

Carter says that she later agreed to a $650,000 settlement from Kelly; he denied any wrongful conduct, and she agreed to keep quiet about the alleged incident. But Kelly went on to make a song, 2009's "Hair Braider" — released by his then-label, RCA Records — which seemed to reference specifics from the incident and about Carter. She says she received an additional settlement from Kelly for $100,000 for her silence; Kelly again denied any wrongful conduct, but agreed to never perform the song again, or to include it in future recordings.

Carter says that after R. Kelly gave his now-infamous interview to CBS This Morning anchor Gayle King — in which he denied ever paying out any settlements to any women — she decided to come forward, despite the terms of her past agreements with the singer. "I don't want to be in the public," she tells CBS journalist Jericka Duncan, weeping, "but this is my life. If I die tomorrow, I know that I told the truth." Kelly's lawyer, Steve Greenberg, tells CBS that police and prosecutors did not bring any charges against Kelly at the time of the alleged incident with Carter.

Carter is represented by lawyer Michael Avenatti, who was recently arrested and charged by federal prosecutors about an alleged scheme to extort $20 million from Nike.

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May 30, 2019

Illinois prosecutors announce a second indictment against Kelly

Prosecutors in Cook County, Ill. announce a second indictment against Kelly, on 11 sexual assault and abuse charges. The alleged victim referred to in this indictment was a minor identified as "J.P." — the same initials of one of the alleged victims, also a minor, who was named in the February indictment. The time span in the May indictment is January 2010; the three previous charges related to "J.P." span from May 2009 Jan. 31, 2010. It is not immediately clear, however, if the new charges involve the same alleged incident.

The charges include four counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, two counts of criminal sexual assault by force, two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and three counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. If convicted of the aggravated criminal sexual assault charges, Kelly faces six to 30 years of a mandatory sentence on each of those four charges.

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R. Kelly, flanked by his legal team, arrives Thursday for his arraignment at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago.
Nuccio DiNuzzo / Getty Images


June 6, 2019

Kelly pleads not guilty to new charges

Kelly is arraigned on the charges listed in the second Cook County indictment against him. He pleads not guilty to all 11 counts of sexual assault and abuse at a Chicago courthouse.

As member station WBEZ notes, Judge Lawrence Flood clarifies that the charges pertain to alleged victim "J.P.," who is mentioned in the February indictment against Kelly. These J.P. charges supersede several counts in the previous indictment.

Four of the counts Kelly now faces are felonies carrying up to 30 years in prison each.

"I can't speculate why prosecutors do something," Steve Greenberg, Kelly's attorney, tells reporters after the hearing. "It's the same facts that we know, the same witnesses and we expect that it's going to be the same result."

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July 12, 2019

Federal prosecutors unseal new indictments against Kelly

In a one-two punch, two sets of federal prosecutors hand down a total of 18 indictments against Kelly between the night of July 11 and the morning of July 12, in Chicago and Brooklyn respectively. It is the first time that Kelly has faced federal charges — which include allegations of child pornography, kidnapping, obstruction of justice and trafficking minors and women for sexual purposes.

Kelly was arrested outside his home in Chicago on the evening of July 11. The following morning, his lawyer, Steve Greenberg, releases a statement that again professes Kelly's innocence and calls the new charges an "unprecedented assault by others for their own personal gain."

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July 16, 2019

Kelly pleads not guilty in the Illinois federal charges; judge orders him held without bond

At his arraignment in a Chicago courtroom, Kelly pleads not guilty to all 13 counts included in the federal charges unsealed in the Northern District of Illinois. At the same hearing, Judge Harry Leinenweber denies bond for Kelly, ordering that the singer remain in custody.

The hearing does not address the five-count indictment unsealed in Brooklyn, however. His arraignment on those charges is still to come, but one thing is now sure: When he does appear in a Brooklyn courtroom, it will be in the custody of federal law enforcement.

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Aug. 2, 2019

Kelly pleads not guilty in the New York federal charges; judge denies bail

At his second arraignment on federal charges — this time, involving the five counts levied in July by prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York — Kelly again pleads not guilty.

Judge Steven L. Tiscione decrees that given Kelly's history, he poses a significant flight risk as well as danger to the community. He denies the singer bail, calling the charges "incredibly serious." In any case, since Kelly remains in federal custody after the Illinois arraignment, Tiscione adds: "He's not going anywhere."

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Aug. 5, 2019

Prosecutors file two criminal charges against Kelly in Hennepin County, Minn.

On the first weekday after his arraignment in Brooklyn, Kelly is charged with two criminal counts related to prostitution with a girl above the age of 16, but below the age of 18. The alleged incident took place in Minneapolis in July 2001, and involves a fan whom prosecutors say Kelly lured to his hotel, and then paid $200 to dance naked for him.

The county attorney, Mike Freeman, says that he's not piling on, and that the county has enough evidence to prosecute Kelly despite the incident having allegedly taken place nearly 20 years ago. "Frankly, Minnesota victims deserve their day in court," he says. "It doesn't disturb me whatsoever that it may not go to trial, as long as he spends time for the crimes he's committed elsewhere — but I can't be sure of that unless I'm at the table. And by charging this case, we are at the table."

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Correction: 2/20/19

An earlier version of this story said R. Kelly was about to turn 33 when the Chicago Sun-Times published its Dec. 21, 2000, article about him. Kelly was actually about to turn 34 at the time.

Previously posted on Jan. 22: A caption on an earlier version of this story said Kitti Jones first spoke about allegations against R. Kelly in an October 2018 Rolling Stone story. She had been interviewed on the allegations for a July 2017 BuzzFeed article. And the interview with Rolling Stone appeared in October 2017.

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