R&B star R. Kelly enters not-guilty plea in sex abuse case
CHICAGO (AP) — R. Kelly pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that he sexually abused four people dating back to 1998, including three underage girls, and his attorney said the R&B star was still trying to pay the bail that would allow him to go free while awaiting trial.
Kelly walked into a Chicago courtroom wearing an orange jumpsuit after spending the weekend in the city’s 7,000-inmate jail. He said little during the brief arraignment, telling the judge only his name. His lawyers spoke on his behalf.
The singer-songwriter was arrested Friday on 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse. A judge on Saturday set bond at $1 million, meaning Kelly must post $100,000 to be released.
Defense attorney Steve Greenberg said Kelly’s confidants were trying to gather the money, and he expected Kelly to post bail Monday evening. He said his client’s ability to post bail is not affected by a child support case because that case is a civil court matter.
If released, Kelly is forbidden from having any contact with females younger than 18.
The recording artist has been trailed for decades by allegations that he violated underage girls and women and held some as virtual slaves. Kelly has consistently denied any sexual misconduct, and he was acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008.
Attorney Michael Avenatti, who said he represents two Kelly accusers, said his legal team gave prosecutors a second video Monday that shows Kelly sexually abusing a minor. Avenatti previously gave prosecutors video evidence that he said showed Kelly having sex with an underage girl.
Avenatti said the second video involves a 14-year-old girl. He said the footage from 1999 or 2000 is about 55 minutes long, but he did not say if it was the same 14-year-old girl seen in the first video he turned over to the authorities.
“The conduct in the tape can be described as nothing short of outrageous, illegal. It leaves no question as to Mr. Kelly’s guilt,” Avenatti said.
Avenatti said he is aware of a third tape, but he did not provide details.
Greenberg reiterated at a news conference that Kelly has done nothing wrong and said no one has shown him any evidence to the contrary.
“Everybody is entitled to a defense. Everybody is entitled to the presumption of innocence. We should all be taking a step back. Let’s see what happens, what the evidence is and how this plays out,” Greenberg said.
In arguing for bail within the singer’s ability to pay, Greenberg told a judge over the weekend that Kelly is not wealthy despite decades of success creating hit songs. The lawyer blamed mismanagement, bad contracts and other issues for his client’s financial woes.
Details of the allegations against Kelly emerged Saturday when the prosecution released four detailed documents — one for each accuser — outlining the basis for the charges. The allegations date back as far as 1998 and span more than a decade.
Each count of the new charges carries up to seven years in prison, making it possible for Kelly to receive up to 70 years. Probation is also an option.
The walls began closing in on Kelly after the release of a BBC documentary about him last year and the multipart Lifetime documentary “Surviving R. Kelly,” which aired last month. Together they detailed allegations that he held women against their will and ran a “sex cult.”