R. Kelly turned himself into Chicago police late Friday night, hours after state prosecutors charged him with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, including allegedly having sex with underage women.
Cook County Judge Dennis Porter approved the no-bail arrest warrant for the singer before approving the charges Friday afternoon, the Chicago Sun-Times first reported. R. Kelly is scheduled to appear in a Chicago bond court Saturday afternoon.
It was not immediately clear how many alleged victims were involved, but at least three of the four anonymous women mentioned in the charges claim they were between the ages of 13 and 16 when they were allegedly forced to have sex with R. Kelly, according to the charges.
The singer’s lawyer, Steven Greenberg, told the Associated Press that his client was “shell-shocked” by the indictment and he maintains his innocence. Later Friday, the singer reportedly turned himself in to Chicago Police, walking past a throng of cameras as he entered a police station and was officially arrested on the charges.
The R&B superstar has faced nearly two decades of accusations of sexual abuse. And last Thursday, Cook County prosecutors reportedly received a 45-minute videotape that is said to show Kelly performing multiple sex acts with an underage girl, whom both Kelly and the girl describe on tape as being 14 years old.
Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti said he turned over the tape to the Cook County State’s Attorney Office. “My client knows the identity of the girl and R. Kelly. He identified the two of them on the videotape,” Avenatti told CNN last week. “He worked for and has known R. Kelly for decades and he met the girl on a number of occasions.”
Moments before the Friday charges were announced, Avenatti ominously tweeted: ‘It’s over.’
“There’s strength in numbers and unfortunately there’s a lot of girls who’ve suffered at the hands of R Kelly,” Avenatti told The Daily Beast on Friday shortly after the charges were announced. “They’ve sought assistance from one another.”
The music superstar has repeatedly denied all accusations against him.
“[Kelly] never knowingly had sex with an underage woman, he never force anyone to do anything, he never held anyone captive, he never abuse anyone,” his lawyer, Steve Greenberg, told The Associated Press last month.
Kelly, 52, has been accused by young, mostly black women of physically, mentally, and sexually abusing them.
In 2017, BuzzFeed published a report detailing the singer’s influence over these young women who were held involuntarily in what some called “a cult.” The report, cultivated from interviewed of three sets of parents, details how Kelly allegedly imprisoned these women in his Atlanta and Chicago residences and subjected them to physical, verbal, and sexual abuse.
Earlier this year, Lifetime aired a six-hour docu-series, Surviving R. Kelly, that quoted several of his alleged victims. “He told me to perform sexual acts while his friends were in the backseat. It was like he owned me,” Lizzette Martinez said. “He stole my life from me.”
“After two years of extensive work, investigation, and a lot of prayer, my clients are hopeful that the recent charges against Robert Sylvester Kelly will lead to justice,” said attorney Gerald Griggs, who represents Joycelyn Savage, one of the women in the documentary.
He continued in a statement to The Daily Beast: “Today, a Grand Jury found the evidence we provided was sufficient for trial. We knew eventually that this day would come. We are hopeful now that with an indictment and the arrest of Mr. Kelly that Joycelyn Savage will soon be reunited with her family.”
In 2002, Kelly was indicted on 21 counts of child pornography in Illinois over another video made in the late 1990s allegedly showing him engaged in sex acts with a 13-year-old girl. Prosecutors and 15 witnesses at the time claimed that the tape showed Kelly having sex with the niece of one of the singer’s protégé, R&B singer Sparkle (the girl and her parents did not testify).
After less than day of deliberations, a jury acquitted him on all counts.
Kelly’s first court date is scheduled for March 8.
—Betsy Woodruff contributed reporting.