R. Kelly Arrested On Federal Charges | WBEZ
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R. Kelly Arrested On Federal Charges

The R&B singer known as R. Kelly was arrested Thursday in Chicago on federal sex crime charges, marking another escalation in legal problems for the musician.

A 13-count indictment by a federal grand jury was filed in Chicago on Thursday. Those charges include child pornography, sexual exploitation of children, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justice.

A separate five-count grand jury indictment, filed Wednesday in New York’s Eastern District and unsealed Friday, includes charges of racketeering, kidnapping, forced labor and sexual exploitation of a child.

This week’s charges are the first federal charges against Kelly.

Kelly’s attorney, Steve Greenberg, released a statement Friday saying the singer hopes to be released after a bail hearing early next week.

That hearing is set for Tuesday in front of Judge Harry Leinenweber at the federal courthouse in downtown Chicago.

The alleged conduct behind the federal charges “appears to largely be the same” as charges earlier this year in Illinois court, Greenberg said, adding that Kelly “was aware of the investigations and the charges were not a surprise.”

Greenberg said Kelly looks forward to his day in court, “to the truth coming out and to his vindication” in the case.

The indictment in New York says Kelly and his managers, bodyguards and other assistants picked out women and girls at concerts and other venues and arranged for them to travel to see the singer.

The assistants also allegedly set rules the women and girls had to follow, including not leaving their rooms — even to eat or use the bathroom — without Kelly's permission, calling the singer “Daddy,” and not looking at other men.

The indictment in Chicago alleges that Kelly coerced minor children to perform sex acts for the purpose of creating child pornography and that the pornography was transported across state lines.

The indictment also alleges that Kelly’s business manager, Derrell McDavid, and a longtime employee, June Brown, went searching for Kelly’s child pornography and attempted to destroy all copies to protect the singer.

The Chicago indictment says Kelly abused five minors, the youngest of whom was 13 or 14 when she met him.

The New York indictment also alleges he abused five minors but it was not immediately clear they were the same as the ones in the Chicago indictment.

Kelly allegedly spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase and destroy videos showing him sexually abusing minors and that he continued making hush-money payments to alleged victims and their families until at least 2015.

At one point, according to the Chicago indictment, Kelly made one of his alleged victims submit to a polygraph test to determine whether there were any remaining child pornography videos with the singer in them.

Years of allegations

Kelly for years has been accused of sexual misconduct involving children. Before the federal indictments he was already facing 18 counts of sexual assault and abuse on the Illinois charges, brought in Cook County Circuit Court.

Those charges involve four women, three of whom were minors at the time of the alleged abuse. That case ramped up in May, when prosecutors added what were the most serious charges against Kelly, including aggravated sexual assault.

Kelly has pleaded not guilty to the Illinois charges.

In an earlier case, a Cook County jury in 2008 found Kelly not guilty of making child pornography.

This year Cook County prosecutors alleged he met one of his underage victims outside of the courthouse during his child porn trial.

In a statement Friday, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said the federal charges were the result of collaboration between her office and federal prosecutors.

The indictments demonstrate “the collaborative efforts of our criminal justice system,” Foxx said. “My office was pleased to work together to secure these charges and will continue to work with our colleagues in the pursuit of justice for all victims.”

Read the indictment here:

Patrick Smith is a reporter on WBEZ’s Criminal Justice desk. Follow him @pksmidThe Associated Press contributed.

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