New Indictment in New York Alleges R. Kelly, Entourage ‘Used Stardom’ to Recruit Underage Girls for Sex

By (Marianne Dodson)
Scott Olson/Getty

Disgraced singer R. Kelly, who was arrested again Thursday night, this time while out walking his dog in Chicago, was hit this week with a new slate of federal charges in New York and Illinois alleging sex crimes, including racketeering and producing child pornography.

In Manhattan, newly unsealed court documents filed in the Eastern District of New York allege the 52-year-old performer as well as members of his entourage pursued women and underage girls to recruit them to have sex with the R&B star. 

“The musician-turned-predator allegedly used his stardom to coax some victims into nefarious sex acts while certain members of his enterprise calculatingly facilitated the aberrant conduct,” said Angel Melendez, special agent-in-charge for Homeland Security Investigations, a division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “Today’s indictment charging racketeering is a clear indication of the extent of his criminal activity, which involves coercion and kidnapping.”

The five-count indictment unveiled Friday charges Kelly with racketeering “predicated on criminal conduct including sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping [and] forced labor,” as well as violating the Mann Act, which is aimed at curbing sex trafficking. 

Meanwhile, a separate 13-count indictment was returned in the Northern District of Illinois on Thursday and charges Kelly with two counts of receiving child pornography, four counts of producing child pornography, and five counts of enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity, among other charges.

That indictment, which accuses Kelly of using blackmail to prevent accusers from taking their allegations to authorities, was made public Friday as well. Kelly already faces charges of sexual abuse at the state level.

R. Kelly Charged After Alleged Video Evidence of Singer Assaulting Underage Girl

Kelly was arraigned on the racketeering charges in Chicago federal court on Friday. He did not enter a plea to either the charges filed in Illinois or in New York. Standing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheila Finnegan, Kelly agreed to being locked up until his next court appearance on Tuesday, also in Chicago, where the court will further discuss detention and moving him to New York.

Five unnamed victims are detailed in the New York indictment, three of whom prosecutors said were minors at the time of the alleged crimes. The court documents allege the abuse began in 1999—shortly after Kelly became a Grammy-award winning artist—and was made possible through the cooperation of Kelly’s entourage. 

According to the documents, a 16-year-old was targeted by a member of the entourage while at a fast-food restaurant. A woman dubbed Jane Doe No. 2 met Kelly while in her early twenties, and, after traveling to interview Kelly for business purposes, was locked inside a room at Kelly’s recording studio, according to a letter requesting Kelly’s detention.

“After a member of the Enterprise provided her with food and a drink, she became tired and dizzy,” the letter alleges, regarding Jane Doe No. 2. “She woke up some time thereafter to the defendant with her in the bedroom in circumstances that made clear he had sexually assaulted her while she was unconscious.”

The indictment alleges the singer exposed Jane Doe No. 5 to an infectious venereal disease, which he failed to tell the victim about prior to having sex without a condom. He told that woman, who met Kelly when she was 19 years old, “that if she was really 15 or 16 years old, she could tell him, suggesting he would have preferred for Jane Doe #5 to be younger,” the documents state.

After Kelly would pick out the girls and women he was interested in, his associates helped arrange travel for them to come to his concerts, then positioned them in the audience so that the singer could see them while performing, the documents allege. It was up to Kelly’s confidants to ensure the women and girls he was interested in attended after-concert events, the indictment states.

R. Kelly Picked Up Victim at His Child-Porn Trial, New Documents Allege

“KELLY relied upon members of the Enterprise to ensure that only those authorized to attend were allowed at the event and to manage the flow of women and girls who were directly interacting with KELLY,” the indictment states. 

Kelly then tried to control the women, according to the court papers. Women and girls allegedly couldn’t leave their rooms without permission from the singer, had to wear baggy clothing when not with him, and were not allowed to so much as glance at other men. They also had to refer to Kelly as “Daddy,” the indictment states.

Kelly “isolated the women and girls from their friends and family” and made them financially dependent on him, according to the documents. He applied a similar method with his entourage, requiring “absolute commitment from its members, not tolerating dissent and obtaining sensitive information about members and associates of the Enterprise in order to maintain control over them,” the indictment says.

Kelly’s entourage allegedly had another important task: ensuring the girls and women never came into contact with each other. They were rewarded for their recruitment efforts and promotion of his music with financial and personal benefits, per the documents. 

The unsealed indictment comes hot on the heels of Kelly’s arrest in Chicago Thursday night, which reportedly involved detectives from the New York Police Department.

In the 13-count indictment filed in Chicago, where Kelly already faces state charges, the court alleges the singer tried to buy off the family of a girl whom he purportedly had sex with and urinated on in order to prevent them from complying with law enforcement. 

Over a 15-year period, Kelly allegedly went to great lengths to prevent a videotape of the incident from getting out—including paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep victims quiet. He also provided the girl depicted in the video with a car and sent her family on a trip abroad to avoid law enforcement, according to the indictment.

The girl, who was 12 or 13 when she met Kelly, was at the center of his 2008 trial that ended with him being acquitted of child pornography charges. Both Kelly and the girl denied they were in the infamous video despite witness testimony claiming otherwise. Payments to the girl continued after the 2008 trial ended, according to the new indictment.

Kelly attorney Steve Greenberg has claimed the unsealed cases are nothing new and are the “same as the conduct previously alleged.” 

“He 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,” Greenberg said Friday in a statement.

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