R. Kelly Arrested on Federal Sex Trafficking Charges - Rolling Stone
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R. Kelly Arrested on Federal Sex Trafficking Charges

In two indictments, singer charged with sex crimes, child pornography and obstruction of justice in Chicago, racketeering and Mann Act violations in New York

R&B singer R. Kelly leaves court at the Leighton Criminal Courts building after a status hearing on his sexual assault charges in Chicago, Illinois, USA, 07 May 2019. Kelly, through his attorney, is reportedly challenging evidence provided in two video tapes that allegedly show him having sex with a 14 year old girl.R. Kelly in court, Chicago, USA - 07 May 2019

R. Kelly has been arrested on federal sex trafficking charges.

TANNEN MAURY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

R. Kelly was arrested Thursday evening on federal sex crime charges, NBC New York reports. The singer was apprehended in Chicago and is expected to be brought to New York. NYPD detectives and Homeland Security investigator agents arrested Kelly Thursday night at 7 p.m. local time on sex trafficking charges while he was walking his dog.

The new indictment by the Northern District of Illinois contains 13 charges, including sex crimes, child pornography, enticement of a minor and obstruction of justice, per Chicago Sun-Times. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn also filed a separate indictment against Kelly with five additional charges, the New York Times reported, including one count of racketeering and four counts of violating the Mann Act, which prohibits transporting people over state lines for the purpose of prostitution.

Following a hearing Friday in Chicago, Kelly will remain in custody throughout the weekend. The singer, who did not enter a plea upon being charged Thursday night, will also have a hearing next week to determine when he will go to New York for arraignment on those charges.

R. Kelly Federal Indictment – Chicago

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“A 13-count indictment returned Thursday in U.S. District Court in Chicago charges Kelly with producing and receiving child pornography, and enticing minors to engage in criminal sexual activity.  The charges accuse Kelly of engaging in sex acts with five minors and recording some of the abuse on multiple videos,” the Northern District of Illinois said of the charges. “The indictment also charges Kelly with conspiring to intimidate victims and conceal evidence in an effort to obstruct law enforcement, including an investigation in the 2000s that resulted in his trial in 2008 in Cook County on state child pornography charges.”

Kelly’s former manager Derrel McDavid and former employee Milton “June” Brown were also charged in connection to the Chicago indictment, which claims that the singer and both men spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to recover missing videotapes from the singer’s “collection” that allegedly showed Kelly having sex with underage girls. Kelly is also accused of tampering with the witnesses connected to his initial child pornography trial, including pressuring the father of the girl – who was Kelly’s then-14-year-old goddaughter – allegedly seen in the videotape to misidentify his own daughter to a grand jury.

“This indictment demonstrates our office’s commitment to holding individuals such as Kelly accountable for criminal sexual abuse of minors, protecting the victims of such crimes, and punishing those who obstruct law enforcement investigations,” U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch, Jr. said in a statement. “Together with our law enforcement partners and with the help of victims and other witnesses, we will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children.”

The Brooklyn indictment alleges that Kelly “preyed upon women and girls who attended his concerts so that the victims could be available to engage in illegal sexual activity with him at a moment’s notice.” “Today that comes to an end. This indictment makes clear that fame and power will not shield anyone from prosecution, particularly predators who victimize vulnerable members of our communities for their own sexual gratification,” Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement.

The Brooklyn charges revolve around five female victims, three of whom were underage at the time of the events outlined in the indictment. The racketeering count accuses Kelly of being the ringleader of an enterprise that included the singer’s employees, bodyguards, drivers and more that helped Kelly recruit the women at concerts. According to the New York Times, one of the alleged victims in the indictment is Faith Rodgers, who featured in Surviving R. Kelly and also sued the singer for giving her a sexually transmitted disease.

“R. Kelly’s Enterprise was not only engaged in music; as alleged, for two decades the enterprise at the direction of R. Kelly preyed upon young women and teenagers whose dreams of meeting a superstar, soon turned into a nightmare of rape, child pornography and forced labor. The musician turned predator allegedly used his stardom to coax some victims into nefarious sex acts while certain members of his enterprise calculatingly facilitated the aberrant conduct,” the Eastern District of New York said. “Today’s indictment charging racketeering is a clear indication of the extent of his criminal activity, which involves coercion and kidnapping.”

Kelly’s lawyer Steven Greenberg issued a statement Friday morning, “As has been reported, Robert Kelly was arrested by federal agents last night while walking his dog. The agents were courteous and professional, as was Mr. Kelly. The charges arose from the alleged conduct in the Northern District of Illinois as well as the Eastern District of New York. The conduct alleged appears to largely be the same as the conduct previously alleged against Mr. Kelly in his current State indictment and his former State charges that he was acquitted of. Most, if not all of the conduct alleged, is decades old.”

“Mr. Kelly was aware of the investigations and the charges were not a surprise. He had already assembled a team of outstanding federal litigators. He and his lawyers look forward to his day in court, to the truth coming out and to his vindication from what has been an unprecedented assault by others for their own personal gain. Most importantly he looks forward to being able to continue making wonderful music and perform for his legions of fans that believe in him,” Greenberg continued. “A bail hearing will be held early next week, at which time Mr. Kelly hopes to be released from custody.”

In this courtroom sketch, R&B singer R. Kelly, center, appears before U.S. Magistrate Shelia M. Finnegan, left, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois., in Chicago. Also standing with Kelly is his attorney Steve Greenberg and an unidentified prosecutorR Kelly, Chicago, USA - 12 Jul 2019

In this courtroom sketch, R&B singer R. Kelly, center, appears before U.S. Magistrate Shelia M. Finnegan, left, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois., in Chicago. Also standing with Kelly is his attorney Steve Greenberg and an unidentified prosecutor
R Kelly, Chicago, USA – 12 Jul 2019

Kelly is already facing 11 counts of sexual assault and abuse from charges filed in Chicago, Illinois, in May, which include four counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, two counts of criminal sexual assault by force, two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and three counts of aggravated sexual abuse against a victim aged 13 to 16. In February, he was also charged in Chicago with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse for allegedly abusing four women, three of whom were underage at the time. Kelly has pleaded not guilty for all charges.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx said in a statement Friday, “Today’s indictment by our federal law enforcement partners demonstrates the collaborative efforts of our criminal justice system. 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. And let us be clear: this is not just about surviving R. Kelly. For most victims, it’s about surviving a less famous abuser, a trusted adult, or a total stranger.”

Darrell Johnson, who identified himself as R. Kelly’s “crisis manager,” held a press conference Friday morning in Atlanta to discuss the new charges. Within minutes, the event was taken over by the family of one of Kelly’s girlfriends Joycelyn Savage, who critics have claimed is being held against her will by Kelly. (Savage has denied the accusations.)

As Johnson began describing the scene of Kelly’s arrest, Joycelyn’s father Timothy pushed his way to the front of a dozen TV news cameras lined up for the announcement, yelling, “Excuse me; I don’t wanna hear all that, bruh. I wanna know where’s my daughter at? Where she’s at?! Answer that question!”

Johnson claimed no knowledge or responsibility for Joycelyn’s whereabouts as the press conference shifted from Kelly’s current legal troubles into a media train wreck akin to the absurdist operatic performances in one of Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet” videos.

Confusion reigned for the remainder of the conference, as Johnson and the Savages jockeyed for attention. “We don’t want to hear your lies,” Joycelyn’s mother Jonjelyn screamed at one point. “You haven’t facilitated no meetings yet!”

“You guys came and stormed the press conference,” Johnson said. “I have much sympathy for you guys. I just got here six months ago. Whatever you guys went through, that was long before me. I have nothing to do with anything anybody told you in the past that happened.”

Johnson did comment on what he would do if in the Savages’ situation: “I have a 21-year-old,” he said. “I would drive that truck into that hotel if my daughter was in there; that’s what I would do.”

The singer has been accused of alleged serial sexual predation with underage girls dating as far back as a lawsuit filed in 1996. In 2017, several women came forward claiming Kelly had them in an abusive “sex cult.” He stood trial on 21 counts (later reduced to 14) of child pornography charges filed in 2002 stemming from a videotape where he is allegedly seen in sexual acts with an underage girl, for which he was acquitted in 2008. Kelly has denied all wrongdoing.

In February, Jim DeRogatis, a journalist who has been tracking accusations against Kelly for two decades, reported that the Department of Homeland Security had opened up a human-trafficking investigation against Kelly, with more than two dozen agents reportedly working on the case. The current federal charges have been reported to stem from the Mann Act, which addresses transporting underage girls across state lines.

R. Kelly Federal Indictment – New York

Additional reporting by Michael Jordan

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