Dark por­trait of R. Kelly painted

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Nation & World - BY MICHAEL TARM As­so­ci­ated Press

Pros­e­cu­tors on Satur­day painted a dark por­trait of a ma­nip­u­la­tive and some­times vi­o­lent R. Kelly, de­scrib­ing how he re­peat­edly sought out un­der­age girls for sex, in­clud­ing one he en­coun­tered at her 16th birth­day party and an­other who met the R&B star while he was on trial for child pornog­ra­phy.

The ac­counts emerged as Kelly made his first court ap­pear­ance since be­ing ac­cused of sex­u­ally abus­ing four peo­ple in a case that could pro­duce an­other #MeToo reck­on­ing for a celebrity.

A judge gave Kelly a chance to go free while await­ing trial, set­ting bond at $1 mil­lion. That means the 52-year-old Grammy win­ner must post $100,000 to be re­leased or re­main be­hind bars un­til he is tried on the al­le­ga­tions that date back as far as 1998 and span more than a decade.

The pros­e­cu­tion re­leased four doc­u­ments – one for each ac­cuser – out­lin­ing the ba­sis for the charges.

A 16-year-old girl re­ported meet­ing Kelly in 1998 at a restau­rant where she was hav­ing a 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 gave her in­struc­tions and taxi fare to his stu­dio, where they had sex pe­ri­od­i­cally for a year, the doc­u­ments said.

An­other ac­cuser, also 16, met Kelly at his 2008 trial, where he gave her an au­to­graph. He later in­vited her to his home in the Chicago sub­urb of Olympia Fields, where they had sex multiple times, ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ments, which said he also slapped, choked and spit on her.

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 the tape over to au­thor­i­ties and iden­ti­fied the girl, who re­peat­edly states 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.

At the bond hear­ing, Kelly’s at­tor­ney, Steve Green­berg, said his client is not a flight risk. He told the judge, “Con­trary to the song, Mr. Kelly doesn’t like to fly.” One of Kelly’s best-known hits is “I Be­lieve I Can Fly.”

Green­berg said Kelly “re­ally doesn’t have any more money,” sug­gest­ing that oth­ers had mis­man­aged his wealth. Still, he said he ex­pected that Kelly would be able to come up with enough money for bail.

The judge called the al­le­ga­tions “dis­turb­ing.” The singer-song­writer looked down at the floor as the judge spoke.

After the hear­ing, Green­berg told re­porters that Kelly did not force any­one to have sex.

“He’s a rock star. He doesn’t have to have non­con­sen­sual sex,” Green­berg said.

The judge or­dered Kelly to sur­ren­der his pass­port, end­ing his hopes of do­ing a tour of Eu­rope in April. Kelly de­fi­antly sched­uled con­certs in Ger­many and the Nether­lands de­spite the cloud of le­gal is­sues loom­ing over him.

ASH­LEE REZIN/SUN-TIMES AP

R. Kelly ac­cuser Jer­honda Pace, left, walks into the Leighton Crim­i­nal Court­house in Chicago on Satur­day for R. Kelly’s first hear­ing since the R&B star was charged with sex­u­ally abus­ing four peo­ple, in­clud­ing three mi­nors.

R. Kelly

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