Singer R. Kelly, facing sex abuse charges, gets $1 million bail

Singer R. Kelly, facing sex abuse charges, gets $1 million bail

Kelly surrendered to police after decades of allegations of sexual abuse, especially of underage girls.
24 Feb, 2019

A US judge set $1 million bail for R&B superstar R. Kelly on Saturday after prosecutors laid out graphic details of charges that he sexually abused four victims, three of them minors.

Kelly, known for hits like I Believe I Can Fly, surrendered to police late Friday after decades of allegations of sexual abuse, especially of underage girls, led to the first sexual assault charges against him.

Kelly was acquitted in a child porn trial more than a decade ago, and had maintained a steady fan base and continued to perform.

But his fortunes changed after a docuseries last month led Chicago prosecutors to publicly seek out any potential victims.

A Chicago grand jury on Friday charged him with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against four females, the youngest 14 years old at the time of the alleged crimes, which spanned between 1998 and 2010.

The charges carry three to seven years of prison per count.

A grave-faced Kelly appeared in a packed courtroom in a black hooded sweatshirt with his hands handcuffed behind his back.

Two women who had previously publicly accused him of abuse came to court to observe the proceedings.

In setting bail, Cook County Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr. ordered Kelly to have no contact with anyone under 18 years old, and to have no contact with any of the alleged victims or witnesses.

The singer also was required to relinquish his passport.

"He's devastated," Kelly's attorney Steve Greenberg said. "Here is someone who at one point was a huge star. Now he is sitting behind bars."

Although his bail was set at $1 million, Kelly needs to put up only a tenth that amount, or $100,000, to be let out of jail. But Kelly's attorney was unsure when the singer would be able to pay.

"His finances are a mess," Greenberg told the judge in court.

After the hearing, he told reporters Kelly would likely put up bail by Monday at the latest and poked holes in the prosecution's case.

"He's entitled to a presumption of innocence," Greenberg said.

"He did not force anyone to have sex. He's a rock star. He doesn't have to have non-consensual sex."

Kelly is next due in court Monday, at which time a trial judge will be assigned to his case. He is scheduled for a March 8 arraignment, when he will have an opportunity to enter a plea.

Allegations of child pornography, sex with minors and sexual battery have dogged Kelly for decades, yet he still managed to enjoy a successful music career.

The musician's fortunes turned after last month's broadcast of the docu-series Surviving R. Kelly, which once again brought accusations against him to the fore.

High-profile lawyer Michael Avenatti and prominent women's rights attorney Gloria Allred are representing clients linked to Kelly.

Kelly married his protege Aaliyah in 1994, when the late R&B star was 15 and Kelly was 27. He had produced the teenage singer's debut album titled Age Ain't Nothing but a Number.

Their marriage was later annulled, and Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001.