Chigaco – R&B superstar R Kelly walked out of Cook County Jail [in Illinois] Monday evening after posting a 1-million-dollar bond following three days in custody.
Hours earlier, Kelly pleaded not guilty in Cook County court to charges he sexually abused four women, three of whom were underage at the time of the alleged assaults, over a span of a dozen years.
To win his freedom, Kelly needed to post 100,000 dollars – 10 per cent of the bond. He was unable to come up with the money over the weekend, but court records indicate a friend from Romeoville posted the 100,000 dollars on Monday.
Associate Judge Lawrence Flood, who has been on the bench since 2001 and assigned to the criminal courts for more than a decade, was randomly appointed to oversee the high-profile case earlier Monday.
In his first appearance before Flood, Kelly – clad in a bright orange jail uniform – clasped his hands behind his back as his attorney, Steven Greenberg, entered the plea on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
Also Monday, celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti, who earlier this month gave prosecutors a VHS tape purportedly depicting Kelly having sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl, told reporters at the Leighton Criminal Court Building that he had turned over yet another videotape.
The alleged victim on the new tape is connected to the charges brought Friday against Kelly, Avenatti said, but he did not provide further details.
Greenberg said after court Monday that he had not seen any of the evidence that Avenatti claimed to have compiled, adding that it would be inappropriate to try the case in the news media.
“We’re going to try the case in the courtroom,” Greenberg said. “We’re going to see what the evidence is, and we’re not going to worry about some grandstanding.”
The singer, whose legal name is Robert Kelly, was separated from the general inmate population in the jail’s medical wing, Greenberg said.
“No one wants to be jail,” Greenberg said before Kelly’s release. “But he’s strong. He knows the fight he’s going to be involved in. He was in it before.”
In a sensational trial in 2008, six years after he was indicted, Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges alleging he filmed himself having sex with his goddaughter, a girl estimated to have been as young as 13.
At Kelly’s bond hearing Saturday, prosecutors alleged that Kelly tried to force oral sex on his 24-year-old hairdresser in 2003 while he was free on bond on the then-pending child pornography charges.
Among the other allegations laid out by prosecutors: that Kelly solicited an underage girl outside his 2008 criminal trial and later sexually abused her; that he carried on a yearlong sexual relationship with a girl he had met in 1998 when she was celebrating her 16th birthday; and that he videotaped himself having sex with a young girl at his home in Olympia Fields in the late 1990s.
After his indictment Friday, Kelly surrendered to Chicago police shortly after 8 pm [0200 GMT Saturday] at the Central District police station, where he spent that night in the lockup. On Saturday he was ordered held on 1 million dollars but was unable to post 10 percent – 100,000 dollars – over the weekend to win his release from Cook County Jail.
Kelly, 52, who has been dogged for years by accusations of sexual misconduct of underage girls and women, was charged Friday in four separate indictments.
Each of the 10 Class 2 felony counts carries a maximum of seven years in prison upon conviction but also could result in probation.
Friday’s charges came in the wake of reporting in BuzzFeed and The New Yorker by Chicago-based journalist Jim DeRogatis and after damning allegations in a recent Lifetime documentary series.
Citing the “deeply, deeply disturbing” allegations raised in the documentary, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx made an unusual public plea last month for any Kelly accusers to come forward.
Last week, Avenatti told reporters that earlier this month he gave Foxx a videotape he unearthed that depicted Kelly having sex with a 14-year-old girl. He said Friday that the VHS tape dating to about 1999 was more than 40 minutes long and showed Kelly on two separate days engaged in sexual acts with the girl. He said the audio was clear and the video of “far superior” quality than the grainy tape used at the 2008 trial.
The indictments come at a time of intensifying professional trouble for Kelly, who has been targeted by the social media movement #MuteRKelly, which called on streaming services and radio stations to drop his music and promoters not to book any more concerts. Protesters have demonstrated outside Kelly’s Chicago studio, and a scheduled performance in Chicago last year was canceled amid the uproar.
Greenberg, Kelly’s lawyer, said he believes the alleged victim in the first tape Avenatti handed over to prosecutors is the same girl from the 2008 child pornography trial and that charging the singer again for that amounts to double jeopardy. (tca/dpa)