CHICAGO—Beleaguered R&B singer R. Kelly was arrested Thursday in Chicago on new federal charges alleging child pornography and obstruction of justice.
Kelly, 52, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, was charged in a 13-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Chicago, according to Joseph Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney John Lausch.
Kelly was arrested in Chicago about 7 p.m. while walking his dog near his residence at the Trump Tower.
The indictment had not been placed on the public docket as of Thursday night and further details of the allegations were not immediately available. It was also unclear when Kelly would appear in court
Kelly’s attorney, Steven Greenberg, could not be reached for comment.
The new charges add to a mountain of legal woes already dogging Kelly, who was acquitted a decade ago in a sensational trial in Cook County of charges alleging he filmed himself having sex with his goddaughter, a girl estimated to have been as young as 13.
Despite the acquittal, controversy continued to swirl around Kelly, driven largely by investigative stories by music critic and reporter Jim DeRogatis in BuzzFeed and The New Yorker, as well as damning allegations in a recent Lifetime documentary series.
The six-hour documentary, “Surviving R. Kelly,” aired on the Lifetime channel and alleged that he has manipulated young women into joining a “sex cult,” forcing them to stay with him against their will and keeping them under his control.
Citing the “deeply, deeply disturbing” allegations raised in the documentary, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx made an unusual public plea in January for any Kelly accusers to come forward. In the days after Foxx’s plea for help from alleged Kelly victims, her office was inundated with tips.
In February, Foxx announced that a Cook County grand jury had indicted Kelly on sexual abuse counts involving four people —three of whom were allegedly underage.
After surrendering to Chicago police, Kelly spent three nights in custody before a friend posted $100,000 — 10% of his $1 million bond — and he was released from Cook County Jail.
At Kelly’s bond hearing in February, prosecutors alleged that Kelly tried to force oral sex on his 24-year-old hairdresser in 2003 while he was free on bond on the then-pending child pornography charges.
Among the other allegations detailed by prosecutors were that he carried on a yearlong sexual relationship with a girl he had met in 1998 when she was celebrating her 16th birthday and that he videotaped himself having sex with a young girl at his home in Olympia Fields in the late 1990s.
The most serious allegations, however, concern a woman identified in charges only as J.P., who prosecutors have said met Kelly during his 2008 trial and began having sexual contact with him the next year when she was only 16.
The four most serious counts in that indictment charge Kelly with aggravated criminal sexual assault — a Class X felony that could carry a prison sentence of six to 30 years on conviction.
While prosecutors did not identify J.P., she has gone public with her accusations against Kelly, identifying herself as Jerhonda Pace.
Her story first aired in an August 2017 BuzzFeed article by Chicago-based journalist DeRogatis, who has reported on allegations against Kelly for years, and her accusations were also part of the explosive Lifetime documentary series in January that revived interest in Kelly.
After the news broke Thursday of the new charges against Kelly, Pace confirmed on Twitter that the new counts involved her.
“His fans were livid when they saw ‘J.P’ on every count,” she tweeted in reference to Kelly. “They already started bothering me.”
©2019 Chicago Tribune
Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.