Doc­u­men­tary puts new at­ten­tion on R. Kelly sex al­le­ga­tions

The Prince George Citizen - - A&e -

R. Kelly, one of the top-sell­ing record­ing artists of all time, has been dogged for years by al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct in­volv­ing women and un­der­age girls – ac­cu­sa­tions he and his at­tor­neys have long de­nied.

But an Illi­nois pros­e­cu­tor’s plea for po­ten­tial vic­tims and wit­nesses to come for­ward and new protests have sparked hope among some ad­vo­cates that the R&B star might face crim­i­nal charges.

“Please come for­ward. There’s noth­ing that can be done to in­ves­ti­gate these al­le­ga­tions with­out co-op­er­a­tion be­tween vic­tims and wit­nesses,” Cook County State At­tor­ney Kim Foxx said Tues­day at a news con­fer­ence in Chicago. “We can­not seek jus­tice with­out you.”

Still, some le­gal ex­perts and prose­cu­tors say it may be dif­fi­cult to bring charges. Ac­cusers and wit­nesses would have to speak out, and even then, prose­cu­tors could have a hard time win­ning a con­vic­tion.

In re­cent days, Kelly has faced in­creased pres­sure from ad­vo­cates who have protested out­side of his Chicago stu­dio and de­manded that po­lice in­ves­ti­gate al­le­ga­tions against mi­nors.

The lat­est at­ten­tion comes days after Life­time aired the doc­u­men­tary Sur­viv­ing R. Kelly, which re­vis­ited old al­le­ga­tions and brought new ones into the spot­light. The se­ries fol­lows the BBC’s R Kelly: Sex, Girls & Video­tapes, which was re­leased last year. It al­leged that the singer was hold­ing women against their will and run­ning a “sex cult.”

Ac­tivists from the #MeToo and #MuteRKelly so­cial me­dia move­ments have seized on the re­newed at­ten­tion to call for stream­ing ser­vices to drop Kelly’s mu­sic and pro­mot­ers not to book any more con­certs.

The al­le­ga­tions ex­tend be­yond Illi­nois. A lawyer rep­re­sent­ing an At­lanta-area cou­ple who ap­peared in the Life­time doc­u­men­tary said Ge­or­gia prose­cu­tors have reached out to him. At­tor­ney Ger­ald Griggs rep­re­sents Ti­mothy and Jon­je­lyn Sav­age, who have said re­peat­edly that Kelly has brain­washed their daugh­ter and kept her from con­tact­ing them.

De­spite the ac­cu­sa­tions that span decades, the star singer, song­writer and pro­ducer who rose from poverty on Chicago’s South Side has re­tained a siz­able fol­low­ing.

Kelly broke into the R&B scene in 1993 with his first solo al­bum, 12 Play, which yielded such pop­u­lar sex-themed songs as Bump N’ Grind and Your Body’s Callin’. Months later, the then27-year-old faced al­le­ga­tions he mar­ried 15-year-old Aaliyah – a multi-plat­inum R&B vo­cal­ist who later died in a plane crash in the Ba­hamas. Kelly served as the lead song­writer and pro­ducer for Aaliyah’s 1994 de­but al­bum, Age Ain’t Noth­ing but a Num­ber.

Kelly and Aaliyah never con­firmed the mar­riage, although Vibe mag­a­zine pub­lished a copy of the pur­ported mar­riage li­cense. Court doc­u­ments later ob­tained by the Chicago SunTimes showed Aaliyah ad­mit­ted ly­ing about her age on the li­cense. In May 1997, she filed suit in Cook County, Ill., to ex­punge all records of the mar­riage, court doc­u­ments showed.

Now 52, his hits have dwin­dled. He set­tled at least three law­suits ac­cus­ing him of hav­ing sex with un­der­age girls filed be­tween 1997 and 2002.

The ac­cusers, all black women, said years after the trial that Kelly kept them locked up and used them for sex at his will.


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