CRIME
07/12/2019 00:14 EDT | Updated 07/12/2019 13:52 EDT

R. Kelly Arrested In Chicago On New Federal Sex Crime Charges

The new charges address longstanding rumors that the disgraced R&B singer paid off the family of the girl in his infamous child sex tape.

The singer R. Kelly was arrested by federal agents and New York Police Department officers in Chicago on Thursday on a new spate of federal sex crime charges, officials confirmed.

A 13-count federal indictment against Kelly in Chicago sets forth charges of child pornography and obstruction of justice, including an allegation that Kelly paid off the family of the girl in his infamous child sex tape. That tape led to his 2008 trial for child pornography, in which a jury acquitted him.

Kelly and his former business manager allegedly lavished the girl and her family with gifts and thousands of dollars in money, and “instructed [her] father to provide knowingly false testimony,” according to the indictment, which was unsealed Friday morning.

The disgraced singer and alleged serial sexual abuser was also indicted on five other counts by a federal grand jury in New York, including racketeering and violating the Mann Act, which prohibits interstate transport of women and girls for prostitution or other improper activity.

That indictment details Kelly’s alleged “enterprise” to recruit, groom and control women and girls for his so-called sex “cult.”

Kelly, 52, has long faced accusations of sexual abuse and misconduct. This year, he has been repeatedly hit with multiple charges. In February, he was arrested in Chicago and indicted on 10 state counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against four victims, including three underage girls. He was charged with 11 additional state counts in May, including aggravated criminal sexual assault. The charges involve incidents spanning the period from 1998 to 2010 and include alleged victims who were ages 13 to 16 at the time.

He has pleaded not guilty, and his attorney Steve Greenberg told The Associated Press at the time of the initial charges that Kelly was “shellshocked” by the indictments.

In a statement Friday, Greenberg denied the new round of allegations, saying that Kelly had already been charged for the alleged behavior in state court or that the incidents were part of his 2008 trial.

“The conduct alleged appears to largely be the same as the conduct previously alleged against Mr. Kelly in his current State indictment and his former State charges that he was acquitted of,” the lawyer said. “Most, if not all of the conduct alleged, is decades old.”

Kelly was first tried in 2008 on charges stemming from claims that he had sex with a teenage girl and filmed the encounter. But he was acquitted on all counts after the alleged victim refused to testify against him.

In the Lifetime documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly,” singer Sparkle, whose niece is the girl in the tape, revealed that she has long suspected that Kelly may have paid off her family, but does not know for sure.

The series, which aired in January, helped bring greater scrutiny to the years of allegations against Kelly.

In March, “CBS This Morning” host Gayle King conducted a remarkable interview with Kelly in which she pressed him on the charges. The singer vehemently denied the accusations, pleading with King that he was “fighting” for his life. At one point he burst into tears, jumped out of his seat and screamed that he “didn’t do this stuff.”

“Hate me if you want to, love me if you want,” Kelly said during the interview. “But just use your common sense. How stupid would it be for me, with my crazy past and what I’ve been through — oh, right now I just think I need to be a monster, hold girls against their will, chain them up in my basement, and don’t let them eat, don’t let them out!”

Friday’s charges in Chicago also implicated Kelly’s former business manager and another former employee. Members of the singer’s inner circle have long been suspected of enabling his alleged sexual abuse and predatory behavior toward women and girls.

At a news conference Friday, Kelly’s publicist Darrell Johnson said that Kelly was currently being held in Chicago and that he has a bail hearing in federal court there on Tuesday afternoon.

This story has been updated with details of the indictments unsealed Friday.

Mary Papenfuss contributed to this report.