R. Kelly, the R&B superstar who had for decades been accused of sexual misconduct and abuse of young girls, was charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse on Friday, a Chicago prosecutor said at a press conference.
Nine of the counts stem from Kelly’s interactions with three victims who were under the age of 17, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said at the press conference. One victim’s age was not specified and related to an incident in which Kelly allegedly ejaculated on her. Each count carries a possible prison sentence of three to seven years.
Prosecutors are now attempting to obtain an arrest warrant for Kelly, sources told the Sun-Times. Kelly’s attorney, Michael Greenberg, has repeatedly maintained his client's innocence and told the Sun-Times he wasn't aware that his client had been charged.
Kelly will stand trial on March 8.
The singer married the singer Aaliyah in 1994 — when he was 26 and she was just 15 — and has long been accused of targeting underage girls for sexual relationships. A six-part documentary series about his years of alleged misconduct finally seemed to unravel his career.
Shortly after the docu-series aired on Lifetime, Foxx urged victims of Kelly to come forward.
“Please come forward,” she said in a press conference. “There is nothing that can be done to investigate these allegations without the cooperation of both victims and witnesses.”
The day before Kelly was charged, two more women answered Foxx’s call: Rochelle Washington and Latresa Scaff said that in the mid-90s, R. Kelly offered them marijuana and invited them to a hotel suite, where he allegedly sexually assaulted Scaff.
A week earlier, celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti said that he handed over a tape to the Cook County State Attorney's Office that allegedly showed Kelly having sex with a 14-year-old girl.
"My client knows the identity of the girl and R. Kelly. He identified the two of them on the videotape. He worked for and has known R. Kelly for decades, and he met the girl on a number of occasions," Avenatti told CNN.
Kelly was previously indicted on child pornography charges over an infamous tape that allegedly showed the musician urinating on an underage girl. But he was acquitted in 2008. Kelly also allegedly held women against their will in his properties, controlling every aspect of their lives, according to a bombshell BuzzFeed News report from 2018.
Avenatti responded to Friday’s charges by saying that Kelly’s “day of reckoning” had arrived.
Cover image: R. Kelly performs at Little Caesars Arena on Feb. 21, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Scott Legato/Getty Images)