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Judge sets R Kelly's bail at $1 million after sex abuse charges

Kelly surrendered to police on Friday night after decades of allegations of sexual abuse.

R Kelly photographed at a police station in Chicago
R Kelly photographed at a police station in Chicago
Image: Chicago Police Department via PA Images

A US JUDGE has set $1 million bail (€881,715) for R&B singer R Kelly after prosecutors laid out graphic details of charges that he sexually abused four victims, three of them minors. 

Kelly surrendered to police on Friday night after decades of allegations of sexual abuse, especially of underage girls, led to the first sexual assault charges against him. 

Kelly was acquitted in a child porn trial more than a decade ago, and had maintained a steady fan base and continued to perform. 

But his fortunes changed after a docuseries last month led Chicago prosecutors to publicly seek out any potential victims. 

A Chicago grand jury on Friday charged him with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against four females, the youngest 14 years old at the time of the alleged crimes, which spanned between 1998 and 2010. 

The charges carry three to seven years of prison per count.

In setting bail, a Cook County judge ordered Kelly to have no contact with anyone under 18 years old, and to have no contact with any of the alleged victims or witnesses. 

The singer also was required to relinquish his passport.

“He’s devastated,” Kelly’s lawyer Steve Greenberg said. “Here is someone who at one point was a huge star. Now he is sitting behind bars.”

R Kelly Investigations R Kelly's defence lawyer Steve Greenberg speaking to reporters at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse Source: Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via PA Images

Victims

In the bail hearing, prosecutors offered new details of their case – including a shocking accusation that Kelly met one underage victim while giving autographs during his 2008 trial. 

They described a video showing Kelly repeatedly having sex with a 14-year-old, DNA evidence from another victim’s shirt that they said matched Kelly’s and semen from yet another victim’s clothes that preliminary tests showed appeared to be his.

Prosecutor Kimberly Foxx told reporters that a witness, not publicly identified, had provided the video showing Kelly having oral and vaginal sex with the youngest girl sometime between 1998 and 2001, when he would have been in his early 30s.

“In the video,” the prosecutor said, “the victim repeatedly, repeatedly, says she is 14 years old”.

In 1998, Kelly allegedly met another girl at a restaurant where she was celebrating her 16th birthday party, invited her to his studio knowing her age, and had sex with her several times after that, each time giving her an envelope with “a large amount of money,” Foxx said. 

In 2008, he allegedly met a girl who was under 17 years old while giving autographs during his criminal trial on child pornography charges, and had sex with her multiple times until 2010. 

R Kelly Investigations Lawyer Michael Avenatti, who is representing an alleged victim of R Kelly, speaks to reporters at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse Source: Matt Marton via PA Images

Illinois outlaws sex with those under 17 when the partner is at least five years older. Kelly is now 52 and was 31 at the time of the earliest alleged abuse.

In the only case not involving minors, Kelly is accused of trying to force a 24-year-old hairdresser to provide him with oral sex in 2003. When she resisted, he “ejaculated onto the victim and spit in her face several times,” Foxx said.

DNA on the hairdresser’s shirt, tested by police, was found to match Kelly’s DNA profile, prosecutors said.

Finances ‘a mess’

Although his bail was set at $1 million, Kelly needs to put up only a tenth that amount, or $100,000 (€88,171), to be let out of jail. But Kelly’s lawyer was unsure when the singer would be able to pay. 

“His finances are a mess,” Greenberg told the judge in court.

After the hearing, he told reporters Kelly would likely put up bail by tomorrow at the latest and poked holes in the prosecution’s case.  

“He’s entitled to a presumption of innocence,” Greenberg said.  

He did not force anyone to have sex. He’s a rock star. He doesn’t have to have non-consensual sex.

Kelly is next due in court tomorrow, at which time a trial judge will be assigned to his case. He is scheduled for a 8 March arraignment, when he will have an opportunity to enter a plea.

© AFP 2019

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