Updated at 11:23 p.m. ET
R&B star R. Kelly has been indicted on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse in Cook County, Ill.
A police spokesman confirmed Friday night that Kelly is under arrest and in police custody. Kelly turned himself in at a police station. The police spokesman says Kelly will be turned over to the sheriff of Cook County on Saturday morning. A bond hearing will be held on Saturday afternoon.
Kimberly Foxx, the Cook County state’s attorney, announced the charges during a brief press conference held in Chicago on Friday afternoon. She said that a grand jury indicted the singer, born Robert Kelly, on 10 counts involving four alleged victims, whom Foxx identified as “H.W.,” “R.L.,” “L.C.” and “J.P.”
Foxx said that three of the women — “H.W.,” “R.L.” and “J.P.” — were all under age 17 at the time of the alleged incidents, which reportedly took place over more than a decade, from 1998 to 2010. Kelly, now age 52, would have been in his 30s or 40s in that time frame.
Foxx, who took no questions, noted that each count is a Class 2 felony in Illinois and a probational offense that carries a potential sentence of three to seven years.
According to Illinois law, the statute of limitations has not run out on the alleged incidents.
Kelly’s lawyer, Steven Greenberg, did not immediately return NPR’s request for comment. But he has maintained his client’s innocence regarding all allegations, as has Kelly himself.
Speaking to The Associated Press on Friday, Greenberg maintained his client’s innocence; the AP quotes Greenberg as saying that Kelly is “extraordinarily disappointed and depressed. He is shellshocked by this.”
Greenberg also claimed to the AP that he proposed meeting with prosecutors before the charges were filed but that his offer was refused.
The Cook County indictment comes amid revived controversy around the singer, which came to a boil last month when the Lifetime TV network aired a six-part docuseries called Surviving R. Kelly that features more than 50 interviewees and lays out 25 years of allegations against Kelly dating back to the early 1990s. The series includes on-camera interviews with several women who have come forward publicly with their accusations. More recent allegations against the singer emerged in a 2017 BuzzFeed investigation. The BuzzFeed piece reported accusations that Kelly runs a sex “cult” composed of women whom he regularly abuses — and it helped uncork a torrent of outrage, including the #MuteRKelly protest movement.
Yet for all the fresh anger that followed the publication of the BuzzFeed piece, allegations of sexual misconduct by R. Kelly are nothing new: Questions have swirled around his behavior with teenage girls since at least 1994, when R. Kelly — then 27 — briefly married his 15-year-old protégée, Aaliyah. The marriage was annulled within months.
Since then, Kelly has faced a series of lawsuits and allegations, none with graver legal consequences than the charge that he videotaped himself having sex with and performing lewd acts on an underage girl. The tape’s existence was revealed in 2002 by Chicago journalists — including Jim DeRogatis, who would write the BuzzFeed story a decade and a half later — and resulted in Kelly’s arrest just months later.
In 2002, Kelly was charged with more than a dozen counts related to child pornography. But due to a variety of delays, he did not go to trial until 2008, at which point he was acquitted on all counts. (Neither the young woman who reportedly appeared in the 2002 tape nor her parents testified in Kelly’s trial, though several other family members and friends did identify her during the court proceedings.)
Within days of Surviving R. Kelly having aired, public pressure against the singer mounted dramatically. Some of his previous collaborators — such as Lady Gaga — began to publicly distance themselves from him. And his label, RCA Records, owned by Sony Music Entertainment, bowed to the pressure and dropped the singer last month.
This month, CNN reported that its newsroom had seen a newly surfaced VHS tape that prominent lawyer Michael Avenatti says he has given to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
CNN described the tape as being over 45 minutes long and said it shows a man who appears to be Kelly and a teenage girl; both the man and the teenager repeatedly refer to her purported age, 14 years old. The video, CNN says, shows the man and the girl in a number of sexual acts as well as the man urinating on the teenager. Those acts are similar to the ones that Kelly was alleged to have committed on the 2002 tape.
After Cook County held its press conference, Avenatti held his own press event in Chicago on Friday afternoon. He stated that he is currently representing six individuals related to the Kelly allegations: two young women — “at least one” of whom, he said, was named as a victim in Friday’s indictment — as well as two parents of one of the women who is believed to be currently living with Kelly, and two people whom Avenatti referred to as “whistleblowers” who have been part of Kelly’s “inner circle” for more than 20 years.
During his press conference, Avenatti asserted many of the same details about the newly surfaced tape as CNN described them. He also alleged that there are two other videotapes — one already in his possession and one that he alleges he is “in the process of recovering” — that purport to show Kelly sexually abusing women. Avenatti said that he plans to turn those tapes over to Foxx’s office as well.
Avenatti also said that he has evidence that a number of “enablers” worked to “rig” the 2008 trial against Kelly, including by paying off witnesses.
On Thursday, lawyer Gloria Allred held a press conference with two more women, Rochelle Washington and Latresa Scaff, who allege that Kelly pursued them for sex when they were teenagers in an incident that they say happened more than 20 years ago.