Thursday 7 March 2019. R Kelly is back in jail after failing to pay over $161,000 in child support. He returned to police custody yesterday, less than two weeks after being freed on bail in relation to charges of aggravated sexual assault.
Kelly currently owes his former wife over $169,000 and was ordered to pay $161,663 by 6 Mar in order to avoid being in contempt of court. At a hearing yesterday, Kelly’s attorney Stephen Greenberg said that the musician’s finances are a “mess” and that he would be unable to pay the outstanding sum. He was jailed until the amount is handed over.
Outside the court, Kelly’s publicist said that his client had offered to pay some of what he owed, expecting that to be enough for the court. “He came here in good spirits, expecting to walk out”, said Darrell Johnson, according to CNN. “He came here to … make some arrangements with what he had, I think it was $50,000 or $60,000 that he was willing to pay”.
Kelly spent three nights in jail after being charged with sexual assault last month, because he was unable to pay the $100,000 – 10% of his $1 million bail – required to secure his release. That amount was eventually paid by a woman who listed herself as “a friend” on court documents.
It had already been reported that a number of female fans of the singer had called the court asking to pay for his bail, and Johnson hinted yesterday that a similar benefactor was being sought to pay the outstanding child support bill.
The debt dates back more than a decade. In early 2009, Kelly was ordered to pay it off in monthly instalments of just under $21,000. However, he failed to attend that hearing. Which is partly why the court is now coming down hard over the lack of payment – hence its unwillingness to do a deal and instead ordering Kelly’s imprisonment.
There had initially been a question over whether he would have to pay off the child support arrears before being allowed to post bail in relation to the abuse charges, although in the end it was confirmed the two matters would be dealt with separately.
Kelly’s financial issues have been well publicised in recent years – his attorney Stephen Greenberg last month blaming “mismanagement”, “bad deals” and “hangers-on” for that situation. As well as failing to pay child support, he also owes more than $166,000 in rent on his Chicago studio. Landlords have been attempting to evict him over the late payments.
Last month Kelly pleaded not guilty to ten counts of aggravated sexual assault against four women – three of whom were underage at the time of the alleged incidents. Yesterday, ‘CBS This Morning’ aired the first part of an interview with Kelly about the accusations he faces. In it, the music star argued that the charges were “untrue”, “not fair” and “stupid”.
On the allegations that he has had sex with underage girls – of which there have been many over the last two decades, beyond those now subject to these formal charges – he denied this. He said that he felt he had already “beaten” these claims, because he was acquitted of filming himself abusing a child in 2008. That was the only previous criminal case in relation to the various abuse allegations made against Kelly, and his acquittal came after defence attorneys argued that it was not possible to identify the girl in the video, and therefore her age could not be verified. The musician has settled various other civil cases in relation to abuse allegations out of court.
At times in the CBS interview, Kelly became emotional, his voice cracking as he said he was “fighting for [his] fucking life”. At one point he also leapt out of his chair and beat his chest. Interview Gayle King remained unmoved, continuing to press him on the accusations and charges. The second part of the interview is set to air at midday UK time today.
Kelly is next due in court in the child support case on 13 Mar. After that, the next hearing on his assault charges is set for 22 Mar.