R.Kelly facing new charges

Associated Press file photo / Musician R. Kelly departs the Leighton Criminal Court building after pleading not guilty to 11 additional sex-related charges in Chicago on June 6. A U.S. Attorney’s office spokesman said Kelly was arrested Thursday night on federal sex-crime charges.

CHICAGO — R. Kelly and his entourage recruited girls and women to engage in illegal sexual activity with the singer and covered up the crimes by paying off and threatening victims and witnesses, federal prosecutors alleged Friday in indictments that could keep the Grammy winner behind bars for decades.

Because they come from the federal government, the accusations add a new dimension to the allegations against Kelly, who was already facing sexual abuse charges brought by Illinois prosecutors earlier this year.

One federal indictment in Chicago said Kelly arranged for a girl and her parents to travel overseas to prevent them from talking with police prior to his 2002 indictment on 21 counts of child pornography. The R&B artist allegedly later instructed them to lie to a grand jury about the case. Kelly was acquitted in 2008 of the charges, which accused him of recording a video of sex acts with the girl, who was 12 or 13 when they met in the mid-1990s.

A separate indictment filed in the Eastern District of New York included charges of racketeering, kidnapping, forced labor and the sexual exploitation of a child.

It said Kelly and his managers, bodyguards and other assistants picked out women and girls at concerts and other venues and arranged for them to travel to see Kelly. They also set rules the women and girls had to follow, including not leaving their rooms — even to eat or go to the bathroom — without Kelly’s permission, calling the singer “Daddy” and not looking at other men, the indictment alleges.

The allegations have swirled for years around Kelly, whom federal prosecutors said Friday was “emboldened by his fame and the lack of any real consequences.” The charges come after two documentaries and a series of news articles about the allegations, as well as pleas from prosecutors who have said new victims and witnesses came forward to share information that helped them build the latest cases against Kelly.

Kelly was arrested Thursday evening while walking his dog “Believe” in Chicago. He appeared in court Friday, standing before the judge in an orange jumpsuit, with his hands clasped behind his back. The only words he spoke during the 15-minute hearing were “yes, ma’am.”

He will remain in federal custody at least until Tuesday, when he’s scheduled for a detention hearing. Prosecutors want him held without bail.

His attorney, Steve Greenberg, said the latest charges were “not a surprise” and that Kelly should be allowed to post bail.

“It’s the worst kept secret he was going to get charged federally, and he hasn’t fled,” he said following Friday’s hearing.

He also accused the federal government of “piling on” with the new charges and described his client as unflappable despite a series of indictments in recent months.

“I’m amazed he hasn’t had a complete breakdown in the face of all of this pressure,” he said. He questioned if the victims referenced in the indictments were actually victims.

“They’ve charged him in New York with enticing people and encouraging people to have sex with him,” Greenberg said. “I don’t think people accidentally have sex so I’m not really sure what the criminal activity is there.”

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