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Who is R. Kelly? Things to know about singer charged with sex abuse

Published: Monday, February 25, 2019 @ 5:41 PM
Updated: Monday, February 25, 2019 @ 5:41 PM

A Timeline of Events: R. Kelly Sexual Abuse Allegations

Grammy-winning singer R. Kelly has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse levied against him by prosecutors in Chicago.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced the charges against Kelly at a Feb. 22 news conference. Authorities allege that between 1998 and 2010, Kelly sexually abused a woman and three girls under the age of 17. 

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Here are some things to know about Kelly: 

1. He was born in Chicago

Robert Sylvester Kelly was born in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood and grew up with three siblings and a single mother.

2. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges in Chicago

Kelly’s attorney, Steve Greenberg, on Feb. 25 entered a not guilty plea for Kelly in Cook County. A judge has ordered him held on a $1 million bond.

>> ‘Tears of joy’: Alleged R. Kelly victim says she’s overjoyed by his arrest

Kelly’s conditions of release include a stipulation that he refrain from contact with any girls younger than 18 and that he surrender his passport, according to The Associated Press.

Kelly posted bond late Monday after spending three nights behind bars.

3. More allegations could be coming

Michael Avenatti, an attorney representing two of Kelly’s alleged victims, said Feb. 25 that his legal team planned to turn over a video to prosecutors that shows “R. Kelly engaging in sexual assault of a minor.”

Avenatti previously provided prosecutors with a video that purportedly showed Kelly engaging in sexual acts with a girl who says in the recording that she is 14 years old, according to CNN.

4. It’s not the first time Kelly has been accused of sexual misconduct

Reporter Jim DeRogatis wrote about the first sexual abuse allegations against Kelly in a 2000 Chicago Sun-Times story that focused on a woman named Tiffany Hawkins, who claimed she had sex with Kelly when she was 15-18 years old, between 1991 and 1994.

>> A timeline of R. Kelly’s history of sexual assault allegations 

In 2013, DeRogatis, who received anonymously sourced sex tapes of Kelly and underage girls, said he had interviewed nearly two dozen women who claimed Kelly sexually abused them, according to The Village Voice.

In 2008, after he was arrested and indicted on child pornography charges, Kelly was found not guilty on all 14 counts.

5. ‘Surviving R. Kelly,’ a 2019 docuseries, renewed calls for investigations

Several law enforcement officials, including Foxx, renewed calls for victims to come forward after last month’s airing of the multipart documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly” on Lifetime.

>> On AJC.com: Lifetime digs into R. Kelly’s sexual predatory behavior in six-part documentary ‘Surviving R. Kelly’

According to TMZ, Kelly did not watch the show, but was “disgusted” and planned to file lawsuits against anyone who took part in executive producer dream hampton’s creation, including Lifetime and the alleged survivors of his abuse.

>> National Sexual Assault Hotline reports increase in calls after R. Kelly doc

The six-hour, three-part special detailed accounts of Kelly’s history of alleged physical and emotional abuse of women, including a recent “abusive cult” in which the singer is accused of holding women against their will. The claims, reported in July 2017 by DeRogatis, then of BuzzFeed, came from sources living in one of the two homes in which Kelly was reportedly running the cult.

What You Need to Know: "Surviving R. Kelly" Allegations

6. He married a 15-year-old Aaliyah in 1994, faking her age in a falsified marriage certificate

The late singer Aaliyah Haughton, who died in a plane crash at age 22, met R. Kelly when she was 12 years old.

In 1994, after the two formed a close partnership, Kelly, 27, secretly married 15-year-old Aaliyah using a falsified marriage certificate in which she lied about being 18 years old, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

>> 'Let these girls go': Alleged victim's family begs R. Kelly to stop reported abuse against women 

Eventually, Aaliyah’s family found out about the controversial marriage and the two ended the union with an annulment. 

Kelly and Aaliyah also began recording the album “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number” in 1993.

7. Kelly wrote about being sexually abused as a child by an older woman in his autobiography

In his 2012 memoir “Soulacoaster,” Kelly wrote about being sexually abused as a child by an older woman, who he referred to as a relative.

>> On AJC.com: R. Kelly accused of abusing women, running 'cult' in metro Atlanta 

In an interview with GQ, Kelly said the abuse went on from around age 7 or 8 to 14 or 15 and occurred every other day or week.

8. An April 2017 lawsuit claimed that Kelly had an affair with a deputy’s wife

In April 2017, Kelly was accused of being involved with the wife of Kenny Bryant, a deputy in the Mississippi Hinds County Sheriff’s Department.

Asia Childress, Bryant’s wife, lied about ending the relationship with Kelly when she and Bryant married.

>> R. Kelly sued for alleged affair with deputy’s wife

Eventually, Childress convinced Bryant to move to Georgia for his career, but “the ulterior motive ... was to foster her relationship with R. Kelly,” the lawsuit read.

Bryant said he went through “grievous mental and emotional distress” and “financial ruin.”

9. He is a three-time Grammy winner

In 1998, Kelly won best R&B song, best male R&B vocal performance and best song written for a motion picture for his hit, “I Believe I Can Fly.”

10. Kelly reportedly has a home in Atlanta

In a 2015 interview with AJC’s Melissa Ruggieri, Kelly said: “I’ve always loved Atlanta, I’ve always called it Chicago’s cousin. When I come to Atlanta it reminds me of my hometown. I’ve got a lot of friends here, so it always felt like home. I used to say all the time when I get a chance I’m gonna get a three-flat and come to Atlanta and I finally got my chance and I’m here and I’m just trying to plant a few seeds here musically.”

>> On AJC.com: A chat with R. Kelly about moving to Atlanta, the future of R&B and his new album, ‘Buffet’

According to the 2017 BuzzFeed story, one of the homes in which Kelly is accused of running a cult in is located in Georgia's Johns Creek neighborhood in north Fulton County.