R. Kelly, the R&B singer, has turned himself in at a Chicago police station after being charged with ten counts of aggravated sexual abuse involving at least three underage girls.
The charges come after years of allegations directed at the musician, accusing the now 52-year-old of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls. Through his lawyers, he has consistently denied them.
The singer, whose legal name is Robert Kelly, is one of the top-selling recording artists of all time. He has won multiple Grammys, including for his hit-song, “I Believe I Can Fly”.
A judge in Cook County, Illinois approved an arrest warrant for the singer after he was charged by prosecutors on Friday.
Kelly was driven to a Chicago police station in a dark colored van with heavily tinted rear windows around 8:15 p.m. Friday. He did not respond to questions from gathered reporters as he walked inside the building.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted a short time later that Kelly was under arrest. He was expected to be held overnight before an appearance on Saturday in bond court.
“He is extraordinarily disappointed and depressed. He is shell-shocked by this,” his lawyer, Steve Greenberg, told The Associated Press.
Greenberg, told reporters following the singer’s arrest that one of the charges he faces appears to be tied to a decade-old child pornography case.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted a short time later that Kelly had been arrested.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx told a news conference that Kelly was expected to appear in court on Saturday for a bond hearing.
Of four female victims in the case, at least three whom he allegedly abused were under the age of 17 at the time, she said. The age of the fourth was not provided.
Court documents charging R Kelly involve multiple alleged victims dating back to at least 1998.
The charges filed on Friday list four alleged victims, including at least three between the ages of 13 and 17. If found guilty, Kelly could face 70 years in prison.
Kelly, who was acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008, has consistently denied any sexual misconduct.
His attorney, Steve Greenberg, said he thinks prosecutors rushed to judgment Friday in charging Kelly, calling the singer “an innocent man”.
He added: “Mr. Kelly is strong. He’s got a lot of support and he’s going to be vindicated on all these charges.”
Kelly was charged a week after attorney Michael Avenatti said he gave prosecutors new video evidence of the singer with an underage girl.
At a news conference on Friday in Chicago, Mr Avenatti said a 14-year-old girl seen with R. Kelly on the video is among four victims mentioned in the indictment.
He said the footage shows two separate scenes on two separate days at Kelly’s home in the late 1990s. During the video, both the victim and Kelly refer to her age ten times, he said.
Mr Avenatti said he represents six clients, including two victims, two parents and two people he describes as “knowing R. Kelly and being within his inner circle for the better part of 25 years”.
“Double jeopardy should bar that case,” Greenberg said. “He won that case.”
The charges relate to four victims, at least three of whom were girls aged between 13 and 16 years old whom he allegedly abused between 1998 and 2010, prosecutors in Cook County said. The age of the fourth victim was not provided.
In a brief press conference on Friday, Kim Foxx, the Cook County State’s Attorney, outlined the charges against Kelly.
Kelly faces between three to seven years in prison on each count if convicted, Ms Foxx said.
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.
In 2008 a jury acquitted Kelly of child pornography charges. Those charges stemmed from a video prosecutors alleged showed him having sex with a girl as young as 13.
Michael Avenatti, the lawyer best known for representing the porn star Stormy Daniels, announced last week that he recently gave Chicago prosecutors new video evidence of the singer having sex with an underage girl.
Mr Avenatti, who is representing several clients linked to the singer, applauded prosecutors for filing charges. “The day of reckoning has arrived”, he said in a tweet.
Gloria Allred, who represents two of Kelly’s accusers, said in a statement: “The days of running and hiding his victimization of women from the criminal justice system have now come to an end for R. Kelly.”
They included those made in a recent documentary called “Surviving R Kelly” which revisited old accusations and brought new ones to light.
The new charges against Kelly come less than two months after State’s Attorney Ms Foxx said she was “sickened” by the allegations detailed in the documentary and made a public appeal for new accusers to come forward.
According to The Chicago Sun-Times, at least two women came forward after the prosecutor made her appeal.
Kelly’s record label, Sony Music-owned RCA, split with the Chicago native last month after the documentary aired.
In 2018 the singer released a song responding to the allegations in which he also claimed he had been abused himself by a “family member” as a child.