Monday 25 February 2019. R Kelly was charged on Friday with ten counts of aggravated sexual assault against four women. The charges were formally made at a court hearing in Chicago. He is currently being held pending a bail payment.
Bail has been set at $1 million. He needs to hand over 10% of that to secure release from police custody, but his widely reported financial difficulties of recent years mean he hasn’t as yet been able to make payment. Meanwhile music industry business partners which in the past may have covered the bill are likely nervous of doing so given the ongoing controversy around the musician’s alleged conduct over many years.
The musician turned himself in to police on Friday after a warrant was issued for his arrest. He is accused of sexually assaulting four women between 1998 and 2010, three of whom were underage at the time of the alleged crimes. One of these women says that she met Kelly in 2008 while he was previously on trial for sexually abusing a fourteen year old girl.
Regarding Kelly’s ability to pay the $100,000 bail payment, it had been reported that he would first have to clear outstanding child support debts before using any funds for the bail money, although CNN has said that this is not actually the case. Kelly currently owes his former wife over $169,000 and has been ordered to pay $161,663 by 6 Mar in order to avoid being in contempt of court. He also owes more than $166,000 in unpaid rent on his Chicago studio, the owners of which have been attempting to evict him.
After the bail hearing on Saturday, Kelly’s attorney Steve Greenberg told reporters that he was “very happy” with the $1 million figure, which he said was “fair and reasonable”. However, he added that Kelly “really doesn’t have any money at this point”, blaming “mismanagement”, “bad deals” and “hangers-on” for his client being broke.
Greenberg added that Kelly expected to be able to get the money together, although he has so far not managed to do so. Though he might not as yet have to, Chicago-based reporter Will Lee said on Twitter that he’d been told that numerous female fans of Kelly’s have called the court offering to pay the $100,000.
Allegations of sexual abuse against Kelly have persisted for many years now, of course, and came under more scrutiny recently, firstly following reports that he is operating a “sex cult”, and then after the screening in the US of a new documentary about the abuse claims.
Of the many civil actions launched against him over the years alleging abuse, Kelly has settled the majority out of court. Though on that one previous occasion criminal charges were brought against him he was acquitted after his legal team argued that the identity of the girl in a video at the heart of the case could not be proven conclusively.
Following the screening of the ‘Surviving R Kelly’ documentary by the Lifetime network, Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx called for alleged victims to come forward. It then emerged that new video evidence had been unearthed that allegedly incriminated Kelly, and one of the four women he is now charged with assaulting appears in that video.
Kelly has always denied all the accusations made against him and continues to do so. As do his legal team on his behalf.
Speaking to Rolling Stone, one of the singer’s lawyers, Brian Nix, said that his client “is disappointed by the unsubstantiated allegations of behaviour that portrays him as a monster by people with a pecuniary motive. He believes that the scripted documentary by Lifetime has created collusion between and amongst female friends who have been converted to victims”.
He continued: “The dissemination of information through media and social outlets have created an environment of possible collusion amongst female acquaintances who have been mistakenly coached to become victims”.
If Kelly can come up with the money to secure his release on bail, he will also have to agree to surrender his passport and avoid coming into contact with anyone under the age of eighteen. If convicted, he is facing a sentence of up to 70 years in prison.