Published: Sat, February 23, 2019
Culture | By Jeremy Gray

R. Kelly Charged With Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse

R. Kelly Charged With Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse

Grammy-winning R&B singer R. Kelly was charged in Chicago on Friday with aggravated sexual assault of four people, including three teenage girls, following years of accusations against the performer.

The R&B singer was charged on Friday in Cook County, Illinois, and prosecutors sought an arrest warrant for him later that afternoon.

Kelly is scheduled to appear in bond court on Saturday.

Avenatti, a well-known attorney, provided a videotape of Kelly having sex with a minor to the Cook County state's attorney's office, and recently tweeted that "it's over".

Kelly has historically denied the allegations against him and always maintained his innocence. He said the video surfaced during a 10-month investigation.

Last month, a former manager for the singer turned himself in to authorities in Georgia, where he was wanted on a charge of making threats against one of the families that took part in the documentary.

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'Aggravated criminal sexual abuse is a class two felony, with a sentencing range of three to seven years per count. In 2008, Kelly was tried and acquitted on child pornography charges in Chicago.

The six-part series, which originally aired on USA channel Lifetime in January, features 50 interviews covering accusations including his alleged sexual preference for underage women, his marriage to 15-year-old singer Aaliyah, and rumours that he had created his own "sex cult".

#MeToo activists and a social media movement using the hashtag #MuteRKelly called on streaming services to drop Kelly's music and promoters not to book any more concerts.

As recently as Thursday, two women held a news conference in NY to describe how Kelly picked them out of a crowd at a Baltimore after-party in the mid-1990s when they were underage. While the date of the videos was not released, Avenatti said the evidence fell within Chicago's statute of limitations. The 20-year period only begins, it says, after a victim turns 18. His collaborators have included Jay-Z and Usher.

According to the Lifetime documentary, he married 15-year-old singer Aaliyah in 1994, a union that was annulled months later by her parents. And protesters demonstrated outside Kelly's Chicago studio.

Kelly and Aaliyah never confirmed the marriage, though Vibe magazine published a copy of the purported marriage license. The 52-year-old also denied holding women against their will, a claim made by the family of Jocelyn Savage, among other girls, after the singer was accused of holding women hostage in a sex cult, according to a 2017 Buzzfeed report.

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