Officials in Chicago have charged R. Kelly with 10 counts of criminal sexual abuse, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx officially announced on Friday in what may prove to be a turning point in a long history of disturbing allegations against the singer.
During a news conference Friday afternoon, Foxx listed the charges, first reported by The Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune, which involved four underage victims. Law enforcement said the incidents took place between 1998 and 2010.
R. Kelly’s lawyer Steve Greenberg told The Associated Press that the singer is “shell-shocked” and “extraordinarily disappointed and depressed” by the charges filed against him. Kelly, who says he is innocent, turned himself in to law enforcement on Friday night.
For decades Kelly has faced sexual assault allegations, many involving underage girls, and has even been said to run a “sex cult.” The allegations gained renewed attention earlier this year after the release of the shocking Lifetime documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly.”
Later Friday, attorney Michael Avenatti, who is representing several of Kelly’s accusers, described in further detail the contents of a tape purportedly showing Kelly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl. The attorney had given the tape to Cook County prosecutors to aid the investigation and previously hinted at its contents to the press.
According to Avenatti, the more than 40-minute video depicts Kelly and an unnamed 14-year-old engaging in oral, vaginal and anal sex in two settings on two separate days. The singer is also allegedly shown urinating on the girl in the tape, estimated to have been filmed in 1999.
“This was in no way role-playing,” the attorney said.
He called the tape “far superior” to the one used in Kelly’s 2008 trial, which ended in the singer’s acquittal on child pornography charges. The video evidence used in that trial also allegedly depicted Kelly having sex with and urinating on a teenage girl.
Avenatti said the newly unearthed video is related to one of the charges announced just hours previously by Foxx, but he would not specify which one. The attorney’s team is “aware” of two similar videos and is in the process of recovering them.
“I think this is the tip of the iceberg,” Avenatti said, adding that he expects Kelly to be convicted in Illinois and “other jurisdictions.”
Avenatti currently represents two alleged victims, two parents of alleged victims and two whistleblowers across the country.
Kelly’s attorney, Steven Greenberg, has consistently denied the allegations, claiming that Kelly is not guilty of abuse.
In addition to his 2008 acquittal, Kelly has also reached settlements with several other accusers.
The Lifetime documentary followed years of reporting on the accusations against Kelly, showing how Kelly maintained his fame and performed widely all along. However, in the wake of the Me Too movement and now the documentary, there have been growing calls to stop playing and promoting his music.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.
This article has been updated with R. Kelly’s response through his attorney and lawyer Michael Avenatti’s description of video evidence.