During a pretty standard interview with HuffPost Live’s Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani on Monday afternoon, R. Kelly condescendingly asked if the host knew what a “deposition” was. He should know.
The Grammy-winning artist was accused by multiple women over several years of having sexual relationships with minors, sometimes videotaping it, and thus creating child pornography. Chicago police brought Kelly, born Robert Kelly, to trial on 14 felony charges in but the singer was found not guilty. Police in Florida also attempted to pursue child pornography charges against Kelly but a judge tossed it, saying the evidence was obtained illegally.
Jim DeRogatis, the Chicago Sun-Times reporter who covered the allegations against R. Kelly more thoroughly than anyone else, said in 2013 that he had interviewed close to two dozen women who claimed the famed R&B singer sexually abused them. Virtually all of the allegations are said to have occurred in or near Chicago, where Kelly is from, and involve claims Kelly repeatedly pursued minors for sex.
As the Daily Beast’s Goldie Taylor noted, Kelly’s former friend and assistant Demetrius Smith observed in the memoir The Man Behind the Man: “Underage girls had proven to be his weakness. He was obsessed, sickly addicted.”
If all of this on the surface wasn’t concerning enough, according to Rembert Browne, during a Q&A in 2013, when R. Kelly was asked who he considered a “peer” that met his same level of excellence, Kelly’s answer was “Chris Brown.” You know, Chris Brown who brutally beat his girlfriend, Rihanna, and then went on to throw a chair through a window and get into a physical altercation with other singers.
Throughout the years, Kelly has always maintained his innocence denied every charge against him. He’s never been charged with statutory rape, but has settled several civil lawsuits that detailed as much.
HuffPost Live attempted to ask R. Kelly what he would tell fans who feel conflicted about enjoying his music while recoiling at his past. Kelly had no interest in answering.
It’s Kelly’s prerogative to avoid talking about the allegations against him and the way they may impact his career. However it’s also our prerogative as journalists to inform readers about what Kelly is accused of doing for many years. Here is a rundown:
R. Kelly married 15-year-old Aaliyah by faking her age.
A 24-year-old R. Kelly met Aaliyah Haughton when she was just 12 in 1991. Three years later he produced her first album, “Age Ain’t Nothin But A Number,” and wed her using a falsified marriage certificate that claimed 15-year-old Aaliyah was 18. Kelly was 27 at the time. Illinois law states the age of consent is 17.
The marriage was later annulled in Detroit in 1994 and the two signed an agreement to never speak about the relationship.
He allegedly had a sexual relationship with then 15-year-old Tiffany Hawkins.
Tiffany Hawkins claimed in a 1996 lawsuit that she began having sex with R. Kelly in 1991 when she was just 15 and he was 24. Hawkins was an aspiring singer. According to court documents, covered by the Chicago Sun-Times, Hawkins’ relationship with Kelly ended in 1994 when she turned 18, and Hawkins then slit her wrists in a suicide attempt. Days after she gave a “hair-raising” seven-hour deposition, Hawkins settled her lawsuit with Kelly in 1998 and signed a confidentiality agreement.
...And Hawkins’ 14-year-old friend.
Another woman named as a witness in Hawkins’ lawsuit said she too also spent time with Kelly and Hawkins at a recording studio, beginning when she was a 14-year-old high school freshman. R. Kelly was 24 when the two girls first started hanging out with him, according to a Chicago Sun-Times account of the lawsuit. The second woman said she also had sex as a minor with Kelly, in at least one instance while he simultaneously groped Hawkins, also then-underage.
Kelly allegedly picked up a girl on the night of her prom, impregnated her and paid for her abortion.
Patrice Jones said Kelly impregnated her and then coerced her into an abortion that he paid for. She sued Kelly in 2002. Her lawsuit claimed Kelly promised to teach her about the music business as he had sex with her as a 16-and 17-year old. Jones’ lawyer said at the time of the suit that the abortion had a serious effect on her mental well-being: “She’s under psychological care now. She had another baby later, but she’s still never gotten over what she did. It’s changed her life.”
Sun-Times reporter Jim DeRogatis would later point to Jones’ case as proof of how the public disregarded Kelly’s accusers because they were black and female. DeRogatis in 2013:
There was a young woman that he picked up on the evening of her prom. The relationship lasted a year and a half or two years. Impregnated her, paid for her abortion, had his goons drive her. None of which she wanted. She sued him. The saddest fact I’ve learned is: Nobody matters less to our society than young black women. Nobody. They have any complaint about the way they are treated: They are “bitches, hos, and gold-diggers,” plain and simple. Kelly never misbehaved with a single white girl who sued him or that we know of.
He allegedly had a sexual relationship with then 17-year-old Tracy Sampson.
Tracy Sampson claimed in a 2001 lawsuit against Kelly that she began having a sexual relationship with the singer when she was A 17-year-old intern. She wrote in her lawsuit: “I was coerced into receiving oral sex from a girl I did not want to have sex with. I was often treated as his personal sex object and cast aside. He would tell me to come to his studio and have sex with him, then tell me to go. He often tried to control every aspect of my life including who I would see and where I would go.”
One alleged sex tape of R. Kelly was sent to the Sun-Times in 2001.
A video tape was sent anonymously to the Chicago Sun-Times in 2001. The editors believed it to be evidence of possible child pornography involving R. Kelly and sent it to police. This tape did not lead to Kelly’s later arrest, as WBEZ noted in 2013.
A second tape ― where R. Kelly allegedly pees in a girl’s mouth ― was sent to the Sun-Times in 2002.
In 2002, a second video tape was sent anonymously to the Sun-Times, which purportedly showed Kelly having sex with an underaged girl and urinating on her. The girl’s aunt identified her in the tape, and told the Sun-Times she would’ve been 14 at the time of the tape’s recording. It was the second time the Sun-Times received an anonymously sent sex tape of Kelly. Police had already been investigating the relationship between the girl in the video and Kelly, the Sun-Times reported.
DeRogatis recalled in 2013:
You watch the video for which he was indicted and there is the disembodied look of the rape victim. He orders her to call him Daddy. He urinates in her mouth and instructs her at great length on how to position herself to receive his “gift.” It’s a rape that you’re watching. So we’re not talking about rock star misbehavior, which men or women can do. We’re talking about predatory behavior. Their lives were ruined.
The girl in the second tape was said to be R. Kelly’s goddaughter.
Kelly, then 35, was indicted that year on 21 felony charges of sex with a minor and child pornography. Another creepy detail also emerged: the girl at the center of the tape that led to his indictment was his goddaughter. The girl’s friend testified later that the tape would’ve taken place the summer after eighth grade.
The charges were later reduced to 14 from 21.
Allegations of another secret sex tape surfaced in 2002.
A fourth woman, Montina Woods, sued Kelly in May 2002 claiming the singer videotaped having sex with her without her permission or knowledge. Kelly later settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed sum.
In June 2002, police said they found photos Kelly engaging in sexual activity with underage girls.
Police said during a search of R. Kelly’s home in Florida in June 2002, they found several images of Kelly with underage women engaging in sexual activity. In 2004, A judge ruled against allowing the use of that evidence, saying it was obtained illegally due to the terms of the search warrant.
Kelly allegedly hit his wife.
In 2005, Kelly’s wife Andrea Lee said the singer hit her when she told him she wanted a divorce. However, in a 2007 interview she defended her husband and suggested the sex abuse and child pornography charges are not true. The couple eventually did divorce in 2009.
And even R. Kelly’s brother, Carey Kelly, went on record saying the singer was the one in the disturbing sex tape.
In 2006, Kelly’s brother, Carey, prepared to testify against the famed singer and claimed that R. Kelly offered him a $50,000 bribe to say that it was not the R&B crooner in the sex tape. Carey Kelly alleged that R. Kelly was proud of the tape and showed it off to friends.
Kelly allegedly had a three-way with underaged girl.
When the trial finally started in 2008, a woman named Lisa Van Allen testified that she had a three-way with Kelly and the underaged girl in the tape at the heart of the trial.
After the girl in the sex tape refused to testify, Kelly was acquitted.
Six years after he was first indicted, Kelly was found not guilty in June 2008, after the girl at the center of the tape refused to testify. The judge in the case then threw a party at a bar, inviting the defense, the prosecution, court personnel and reporters covering the trial.
R. Kelly dated a 21-year-old he’d known since she was 7 years-old.
Just ahead of the trial, Kelly’s longtime publicist Regina Daniels quit. She had defended Kelly against many of the accusations leveled against him, but suddenly said he’d “crossed a line,” without explaining further. In February 2008, her husband, music retailer George Daniels, told Los Angeles radio station KJLH, that Kelly had a secret and “inappropriate relationship” with the Daniels’ 21-year-old daughter, Maxine. Kelly had known Maxine since she was 7 years old.
Tyler Kingkade is a national reporter covering sexual violence. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or find him on Twitter: @tylerkingkade.
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