R. Kelly In Chicago Police Custody, Charged With Felony Criminal Sexual Abuse | WBEZ
Skip to main content


R. Kelly In Chicago Police Custody, Charged With Felony Criminal Sexual Abuse

Updated 11 p.m.

Chicago police say R&B star R. Kelly has been taken into custody in connection with multiple charges of aggravated sexual abuse.

Kelly was driven to a Chicago police station in a dark colored van with heavily tinted rear windows around 8:15 p.m. Friday. He did not respond to questions from gathered reporters as he walked inside the building.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted Friday night that Kelly was arrested at a precinct and will appear Saturday afternoon in court.

Kelly was indicted in Cook County Friday on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

Robert Kelly, 52, of Olympia Fields, is accused of abusing four women, three of whom were girls between the ages of 13 and 17 during the time of the alleged abuse, according to an indictment filed in Cook County court.

The alleged encounters happened between 1998 and 2010, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said during a brief Friday afternoon press conference. In August 2017, the statute of limitations on child sex abuse crimes was eliminated in Illinois. 

If convicted, Kelly faces three to seven years in prison for each count, she said. However, probation is also an option under Illinois law.

It’s not the first time Kelly has been charged with a sex-related crime in Cook County. A jury acquitted Kelly of child pornography charges in 2008 trial after prosecutors alleged Kelly recorded himself having sex with a girl as young as 13.

Attorney Michael Avenatti says he believes more than 10 people associated with Kelly should be criminally charged as "enablers" to his alleged sexual abuse of underage girls.

Avenatti spoke at a news conference in Chicago Friday afternoon just hours after prosecutors announced 10 counts against Kelly. Avenatti said he represents six people in the case, whom he described as two victims, two parents and two "whistleblowers" who may have been members of Kelly's inner circle.

He says some of Kelly's associates over the years should also be charged because they "looked the other way" when girls were assaulted "because they didn't want to kill the golden goose."

Last week, Avenatti said he gave Chicago prosecutors a VHS tape that purportedly shows Kelly having sex with an underage girl.

Kelly's attorney Steve Greenberg says one of the charges the R&B star faces appears to be tied to a decade-old child pornography case.

Greenberg also told reporters shortly after Kelly turned himself in to Chicago police Friday night that he has yet to view the videotape allegedly showing the singer having sex with an underage girl.

Kelly had been the subject of a recent Lifetime documentary, Surviving R. Kelly, that focused on decades of alleged sexual misconduct. The documentary prompted Foxx to put out a public request last month for victims to come forward.

Kelly is one of the top-selling recording artists of all time. He has won multiple Grammys, including for his hit song, “I Believe I Can Fly.”

Last month, Kelly was given an eviction notice from his Near West Side studio. And in February 2018, he was evicted from two Georgia homes for allegedly having more than $31,000 in past due payments to SB Property Management Global.

Jim DeRogatis, a music journalist who has spent nearly two decades covering allegations of abuse by R. Kelly, was at the press conference Friday where charges were announced. DeRogatis is also a co-host for Sound Opinions, a music show from WBEZ.

DeRogatis was mailed a video tape that would become the center of the child pornography case against Kelly in 2008. 

Fighting back tears, DeRogatis said he knew the names of 48 women who’d been abused by Kelly. He said law enforcement, journalism, and the music industry has been failing those women for decades.

“This was not a secret,” he said. “We failed young black women in Chicago for 30 years. I’d like to be optimistic today, I don't know if I am.”

Shannon Heffernan, Michael Lansu and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Get the WBEZ App

Download the best live and on-demand public radio experience. Find out more.