Judge sets R. Kelly’s bond at $1M

The R&B singer spent a night in jail in Chicago after be­ing charged with sex­ual abuse in­clud­ing mi­nors.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Front Page - By Michael Tarm

CHICAGO — A judge Satur­day gave R. Kelly a chance to go free while the R&B star awaits trial on charges that he sex­u­ally abused four peo­ple, in­clud­ing three mi­nors, in a case that seemed likely to pro­duce an­other #MeToo reck­on­ing for a celebrity.

Cook County Judge John Fitzger­ald Lyke Jr. set bond at $1 mil­lion, mean­ing that 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.

Kelly turned him­self in late Fri­day and spent a night in jail be­fore be­ing taken to the court­house.

Dur­ing Satur­day’s 17minute hear­ing, Kelly stood fac­ing the judge in a black hoodie with his arms cuffed be­hind his back, frown­ing at times as he kept his eyes down­cast.

He said to the judge, “How are you?”

Kelly shook his head sev­eral times in dis­agree­ment as pros­e­cu­tors de­tailed their ev­i­dence. At one point he leaned over to whis­per some­thing to his at­tor­ney, Steve Green­berg, who pat­ted Kelly on the shoul­der.

Green­berg said Kelly is not a flight risk and told the judge, “Con­trary to the song, Mr. Kelly doesn’t like to fly.”

One of Kelly’s best­known hits is “I Be­lieve I Can Fly.”

The bond equals

$250,000 for each of the four peo­ple Kelly is charged with abus­ing, the judge said.

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.

Asked later how Green­berg would get paid, he said, “That’s none of your busi­ness.”

The judge called the al­le­ga­tions “dis­turb­ing.”

Kelly’s DNA was found in se­men on one of the ac­cuser’s shirts, and se­men found on one worn by an­other was sub­mit­ted for DNA test­ing, Cook County State’s At­tor­ney Kim Foxx said.

Kelly met one of the ac­cusers when she was cel­e­brat­ing her 16th birth­day party at a restau­rant and an­other when he signed an au­to­graph dur­ing his 2008 trial on child-pornog­ra­phy charges, Foxx said.

Pros­e­cu­tors said they have a video of an­other ac­cuser that shows R. Kelly hav­ing sex with her when she was 14.

A fourth ac­cuser, a hair­dresser, told pros­e­cu­tors that she thought she was go­ing to braid R. Kelly’s hair, but that he in­stead tried to force her to give him oral sex. The woman, who was 24 at the time, was able to pull away, but Kelly ejac­u­lated on her and spit in her face, Foxx said.

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. The judge also banned the singer from con­tact with any­one younger than 18.

The record­ing artist, whose le­gal name is Robert Kelly, has been trailed for decades by al­le­ga­tions that he vi­o­lated un­der­age girls and women and held some as vir­tual slaves. He was charged with 10 counts of ag­gra­vated sex­ual abuse.

Kelly, who was ac­quit­ted of child pornog­ra­phy charges in 2008, has con­sis­tently de­nied any sex­ual mis­con­duct. He broke into the R&B scene in 1993 with his first solo al­bum, “12 Play,” which pro­duced such pop­u­lar sex-themed songs as “Bump N’ Grind” and “Your Body’s Callin’.”

He rose from poverty on Chicago’s South Side and has re­tained a siz­able fol­low­ing. Kelly has writ­ten nu­mer­ous hits for him­self and other artists, in­clud­ing Ce­line Dion, Michael Jack­son and Lady Gaga. His col­lab­o­ra­tors have in­cluded Jay-Z and Usher.

The jury in 2008 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 got­ten 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 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. If Kelly is con­victed on all 10 counts, a judge could de­cide that the sen­tences run one after the other — mak­ing it pos­si­ble for him to re­ceive up to 70 years be­hind bars. Pro­ba­tion is also an op­tion un­der the statute.

Kelly was charged a week after Michael Ave­natti, the at­tor­ney whose clients have in­cluded porn star Stormy Daniels, said he gave pros­e­cu­tors new video ev­i­dence of the singer with an un­der­age girl.

CHRIS SWEDA/CHICAGO TRI­BUNE

R&B star R. Kelly, who turned him­self in and was ar­rested Fri­day in Chicago, is ac­cused of sex­u­ally abused four peo­ple.

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