R. Kelly, the musician, has been accused of sexually assaulting children for the last two and a half decades, enticing them in with music — and the promise of helping them start their own music careers. Following the #MuteRKelly movement, a series of demonstrations and boycotts of his music, and the publication of “Surviving R. Kelly,” a documentary including testimony from many women accusing the singer of abuse, public scrutiny increased in 2017 and then again in 2019.
However, the 54-year-old entertainer has paid civil lawsuits and was acquitted in a high-profile criminal case involving child pornography allegations in 2008. Mr. Kelly was prosecuted for the first time in that case.
Mr. Kelly faces a second criminal trial in federal court in Brooklyn on Monday, where he is accused of racketeering based on child sexual exploitation, abduction, forced labor, and Mann Act crimes.
The accusations allege that women and minors were coerced and transported in interstate commerce to participate in unlawful sexual conduct. In both instances, Mr. Kelly, who has been in prison since 2019, has pleaded not guilty.
The accusations were announced in July 2019 by Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations.
The cases began between 1996 and 2002 when at least four different women sued Mr. Kelly. Tiffany “Tia” Hawkins, then a high school student, sued Mr. Kelly for $10 million in December 1996, according to the Chicago Sun-Times in December 2000. Ms. Hawkins claims the two started having intercourse in 1991 when she was 15 and he was 24 years old. Mr. Kelly reached a settlement with Ms. Hawkins for $250,000 two years after the lawsuit was filed. In the same year, the singer won three Grammys for his song “I Believe I Can Fly.” Tracy Sampson sued the singer in 2001, alleging that he coerced her into having sex with him when she was 17 years old. That lawsuit, too, was resolved without going to court.
In 2002, two additional claims were filed: one claimed that she was under the age of consent when Mr. Kelly impregnated her and forced her to have an abortion; the other claimed that she was under the age of consent when Mr. Kelly impregnated her and forced her to have an abortion. Another lady said she was secretly filmed during intercourse. Both instances were covered by Chicago media and were resolved without going to court.
Jim DeRogatis, a music critic and writer, covered the events in Chicago at the time and continued to look into the allegations against Mr. Kelly.
In February 2002, a videotape was anonymously placed in Mr. DeRogatis’ mailbox. Mr. Kelly seemed to be having intercourse with a teenage girl and peeing on her on the video. Mr. DeRogatis’ former employer, the Chicago Sun-Times, launched an investigation.
On the same day that Mr. Kelly performed at the 2002 Winter Olympics opening ceremony, the Chicago police department announced its investigation into him. A grand jury in Chicago indicted the singer on 21 charges of child pornography four months later.
It took more than five years for the case to reach trial. Mr. Kelly pled not guilty, and a jury acquitted him of all counts in June 2008, after less than a full day of deliberations.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office began receiving “many” calls claiming abuse after Lifetime broadcast the “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary in 2019, and officials began to examine these allegations.
The radio personality Mr. Joyner was interviewed for the documentary. “The more we speak about this, the more we realize what R. Kelly has been doing throughout history,” he added. “And then we have to keep pressing on all of these lawsuits that he’s settled. And we’ll keep pressing until we get some charges.
“He’s Teflon for some reason. And I’m not sure what you’re talking about. I don’t understand why the legal system is unable to bring him to justice.” Prosecutors in Cook County accused Mr. Kelly of 10 additional severe criminal sexual assault charges later that year. Three of the four individuals named as victims in the case were young ladies between the ages of 13 and 16 when the alleged crimes took place.
For these charges, no trial date has been scheduled. And it will stay that way until Mr. Kelly’s federal criminal proceedings are completed.
Mr. Kelly was detained again in Chicago in July 2019, five months after being accused by Chicago police. This time, federal prosecutors issued a 13-count indictment that included enticement of a minor, obstruction of justice, and child pornography.
On the same day, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn unveiled a second indictment in the case that will begin jury selection on Monday. The accusations were against five unidentified women, three of whom were minors at the time, including one count of racketeering and four counts of breaching the Mann Act.
Mr. Kelly’s federal case in Chicago has been put on hold until the racketeering case in Brooklyn plays out; a status hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 17.
Mr. Kelly could face up to 20 years in jail if convicted.