R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse
R. Kelly has been charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse in Cook County, Illinois. Prosecutors accuse him of sexually abusing four victims, with at least three of them underage, between the years 1998 and 2010. At the time of the alleged misconduct, the minors were between 13 and 16 years old. The accusations include forcing oral penetration and forcing sexual penetration but not the more serious charge of sexual assault, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Last week celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti sent prosecutors a VHS tape allegedly showing Kelly sexually abusing a young girl. CNN reviewed the video and reported that it shows a naked man who appears to be R. Kelly perform multiple sex acts with a girl. It is not possible to determine her age from the footage, but she and the man both refer to her "14-year-old p***y" several times, according to CNN. The girl repeatedly calls the man "daddy" and at one point, the man urinates on her, according to CNN.
The charges follow a furor over Lifetime's bombshell documentary series Surviving R. Kelly. The show featured interviews with survivors who accused the R&B star of running a "sex cult" out of his Chicago and Atlanta-area homes. Kelly allegedly manipulated young women into joining the cult and forced them to stay against their will. In July 2017, Buzzfeed News published an explosive article about the cult, in which three sets of parents said they hadn't heard from their daughters in years, since they met R. Kelly.
R. Kelly has never been convicted of a crime, but has been accused of pursuing sexual relationships with underage girls for decades. In 2008, he was charged with 14 counts of child pornography, and found not guilty by a Chicago jury. His music career survived the scandal, but may not survive Surviving R. Kelly. As a direct result of the broadcast, prosecutors launched criminal investigations in Georgia, Illinois and New York. Last month, Sony Records dropped the 52-year-old singer, after facing public pressure from activists.
On Thursday, two additional women came forward, accusing Kelly of sexual abuse and sexual misconduct when they were minors in the mid-1990's. Latresa Scaff and Rochelle Washington claim that after a concert, Kelly invited them to their hotel room, exposed his penis, and asked for a threesome. Washington ran to the bathroom to hide, while Scaff allegedly stayed to engage in sexual acts.
"When I first met R. Kelly that night, I was very happy and excited because I was young and starstruck," Scaff said. "However, now that I am an adult, I feel hurt by what he did to me when I was only 16 years old and under the influence of alcohol and marijuana, which had been provided to me at his afterparty... I did not have the capacity to consent."
Kelly has staunchly denied all allegations of wrongdoing. His attorney, Steven Greenberg, has expressed confidence that the singer will be cleared of all charges. Meanwhile, Michael Avenatti tweeted, "It's over. After 25 years of serial sexual abuse and assault of underage girls, the day of reckoning for R Kelly has arrived."
Aggravated criminal sexual abuse is a class 2 felony and carries a sentencing range of three to seven years. If convicted, Kelly could face a maximum of 70 years in prison. A no-bail arrest warrant has been issued and his first court date is March 8.