Sunday 20 October 2019

R&B star R Kelly (52) charged with abuse of girls under 17

Charged: R Kelly is expected in court today to face 10 counts of sexual abuse
Charged: R Kelly is expected in court today to face 10 counts of sexual abuse Newsdesk Newsdesk

R&B star R Kelly has been taken into custody after arriving at a Chicago police station.

The singer attended the station hours after authorities announced multiple charges of aggravated sexual abuse involving four victims, including at least three between the ages of 13 and 17.

The 52-year-old singer, whose real name is Robert Kelly, was driven to the station in a dark-coloured van with heavily-tinted rear windows.

The vehicle pulled up outside the precinct about 8.15pm and a security detail for Kelly kept reporters and cameramen at arms' length as he exited the side door.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted a short time later that was under arrest.

Kelly did not respond to questions from reporters as he walked inside the building.

He was expected to be held overnight before a court appearance on Saturday.

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx announced 10 counts against the Grammy winner on Friday.

She said the abuse dated back as far as 1998 and spanned more than a decade.

Kelly has been trailed for decades by allegations that he violated underage girls and women and held some as virtual slaves.

The singer, who was acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008, has consistently denied any sexual misconduct.

"He is extraordinarily disappointed and depressed. He is shell-shocked by this," his lawyer, Steve Greenberg said.

The arrest sets the stage for another #MeToo-era celebrity trial. Bill Cosby went to prison last year, and former Hollywood studio boss Harvey Weinstein is awaiting trial.

Best known for hits such as Ignition and I Believe I Can Fly, Kelly was charged a week after high-profile lawyer Michael Avenatti said he gave prosecutors new video evidence of the singer with an underage girl.

At a news conference in Chicago, Mr Avenatti said a 14-year-old girl seen with R Kelly on the video is among four victims mentioned in the indictment.

He said the footage shows two separate scenes on two separate days at Kelly's residence in the late 1990s.

During the video, both the victim and Kelly refer to her age 10 times, he said.

Mr Avenatti said he represents six clients, including two victims, two parents and two people he describes as "knowing R Kelly and being within his inner circle for the better part of 25 years".

The new charges marked "a watershed moment," he said, adding that he believes more than 10 other people associated with Kelly should be charged as "enablers" for helping with the assaults, transporting minors and covering up evidence.

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