R. Kelly Bonds Out Of Jail After Pleading Not Guilty To Sex-Abuse Charges

February 25, 2019 - 10:01 am
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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO/AP) — R. Kelly was released Monday evening from Cook County Jail around 5:30 p.m., after posting $100,000 bail that allows him to go free while awaiting trial on charges that he sexually abused four people dating back to 1998, including three underage girls.

Kelly was arrested late Friday on 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse involving four victims, three of whom were minors. A judge on Saturday set bond at $1 million, meaning Kelly had to post 10 percent of that amount to be released. Court records show a 47-year-old woman from the Chicago suburb of Romeoville, Illinois, posted the $100,000 bail and identified herself on the bond slip as "a friend" of Kelly.

Kelly will be forbidden from having any contact with females younger than 18.

The black van that took Kelly away from the jail stopped in the parking lot of a large downtown McDonald's. He did not immediately emerge, but some members of his entourage stood outside the vehicle and a dark-colored Mercedes-Benz parked next to it.

Hours before he bonded out, the R&B singer appeared in court and pleaded not guilty on all counts. He said little during the brief arraignment, telling the judge only his name. His lawyers spoke on his behalf.

Kelly's case was also assigned to Cook County Associate Judge Lawrence Flood. His next court date has been scheduled for March 22.

Also sitting in the courtroom was Attorney Michael Avenatti, who said he represents two Kelly victims. He announced Monday morning that his legal team will give prosecutors a second video that he alleges shows Kelly sexually assaulting a minor. 

Attorney Michael Avenatti said the latest tape is 55 minutes long and was shot in 1999 or 2000. The video shows a girl, who is among the victims listed in Friday’s indictments. He said Kelly repeatedly refers to the girl’s genitalia as being 14-years old. 

"The conduct in the tape can be described as nothing short of outrageous, illegal; it leaves no question as to Mr. Kelly's guilt. On the tape, Mr. Kelly repeatedly refers to the victim as having a 14-year-old body part - a vagina - although that is not the word he uses on the tape. I am not going to use it here today, at this moment for obvious reasons. In addition over the weekend, we have encountered a number of additional witnesses, who we have interviewed, who we are in the process of preparing to meet with prosecutors," Avenatti said.

"Each of these witnesses describe a decades long system of abuse by Mr. Kelly of underage girls in conduct that is illegal, criminal and is indicative of someone who should never walk free another day in his life. All of these young girls are not lying, ladies and gentlemen. It is impossible and it is outrageous for Mr. Greenberg and other enablers of Mr. Kelly to suggest that all of these young ladies after 28 years are lying about this conduct. This man deserves to be locked up for the rest of his life and the fact of the matter is, and I am going to call it like I see it, had these victims not been black, and had they not come from, in many cases, disadvantaged households or households of a lower economic status, this guy would not be walking free today. Those days however are over. This reign of abuse and assault of Mr. Kelly is about to come to an abrupt and permanent end."

Avenatti said he has been made aware of a third videotape which contains alleged sexual abuse. He said he is trying to get his hands on it.

Defense attorney Steve Greenberg reiterated at a news conference that Kelly has done nothing wrong and said no one has shown him any evidence to the contrary.

"Everybody is entitled to a defense. Everybody is entitled to the presumption of innocence. We should all be taking a step back. Let's see what happens, what the evidence is and how this plays out," Greenberg said.

(Tom Gianni via AP)

Disturbing details of the allegations against Kelly emerged Saturday when the prosecution released four detailed documents — one for each accuser — outlining the basis for the charges. The allegations date back as far as 1998 and span more than a decade.

A girl who attended Kelly's child pornography trial in 2008 got his autograph after a court session. He later invited her to his home in the Chicago suburb of Olympia Fields, where they had sex multiple times starting the following May, when she was 16, according to the documents, which said he also slapped, choked and spit on the girl.

In 1998, another girl reported meeting Kelly at a restaurant where she was having a 16th birthday party. Kelly's manager gave her the singer's business card and suggested she call Kelly. The girl's mother heard the exchange, took the card and told the manager her daughter was 16.

But her daughter later retrieved the card from her purse. She contacted Kelly, who told her to take a cab to his studio, where they had sex periodically for a year, the documents said. After the first encounter, she was given an envelope of cash.

In early 2003, a Chicago hairdresser told prosecutors that she thought she was going to braid Kelly's hair, but he pulled down his pants and instead tried to force her to give him oral sex. The woman, who was 24, was able to pull away, but Kelly ejaculated on her and spit in her face, the documents said.

Prosecutors also described a witness who had access to videotapes showing Kelly having sex with a 14-year-old girl. The witness turned a tape over to authorities and identified the girl, who repeatedly stated her age on the footage, according to the documents.

Kelly's DNA was found in semen on one of the accuser's shirts, and semen found on a shirt worn by another was submitted for DNA testing, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx said. It was not clear when the accusers turned the shirts over to authorities — whether it was shortly after the abuse or more recently.

In 2008, a jury acquitted Kelly of child pornography charges that centered on a graphic video that prosecutors said showed him having sex with a girl as young as 13. He and the young woman allegedly seen with him denied they were in the 27-minute video, even though the picture quality was good and witnesses testified it was them, and she did not take the stand. Kelly could have been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Charging Kelly now for actions that occurred in the same time frame as the allegations from the 2008 trial suggests the accusers are cooperating this time and willing to testify.

Because the alleged victim 10 years ago denied that she was on the video and did not testify, the state's attorney's office had little recourse except to charge the lesser offense under Illinois law, child pornography, which required a lower standard of evidence.

Each count of the new charges carries up to seven years in prison, and the sentences could be served consecutively, making it possible for him to receive up to 70 years. Probation is also an option.

The walls began closing in on Kelly after the release of a BBC documentary about him last year and the multipart Lifetime documentary "Surviving R. Kelly," which aired last month. Together they detailed allegations that he held women against their will and ran a "sex cult."

(WBBM Newsradio and The Associated Press contributed to this copy. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)