Robert S. Kelly, the R & B singer known as R. Kelly, was charged Friday in Brooklyn federal court with running a racketeering enterprise designed to promote his career and recruit women and underage girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with him.
The indictment of Kelly, 52, whose sexual behavior was long both notorious and controversial, included allegations of sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping and recklessly exposing a woman to venereal disease during sex without her knowledge, and almost cultish behavior.
Systematically recruited by his entourage, the government said, women and girls weren’t allowed to leave their rooms without Kelly’s permission, had to wear baggy clothing when they weren’t with the singer, were ordered to not look at other men, and were required to call Kelly “Daddy.”
.”R. Kelly’s enterprise was not only engaged in music,” said Angel Melendez, head of the New York office of Homeland Security Investigations. “For two decades the enterprise…preyed upon young women and teenagers whose dreams of meeting a superstar soon turned into a nightmare.”
Kelly was arrested Thursday night in Chicago on a separate 13-count indictment charging him with criminal sexual activity and producing child pornography for engaging in sex acts with five minors and recording some of the activity on videos, as well as obstruction of justice.
He is scheduled to appear in federal court in Chicago next week for a hearing on removal to Brooklyn, and potentially to enter pleas. It is unclear whether the Chicago or Brooklyn case will take precedence.
The five-count Brooklyn indictment charged Kelly with multiple violations of the federal Mann Act by transporting women for a variety of illegal sexual purposes — including child pornography, sex with minors, rape and sex without disclosing Kelly’s sexually transmitted disease.
Exclusive subscription offer
Newsday covers the stories that matter most to Long Islanders. We dig deep to uncover the facts, hold the powerful in check and keep a watchful eye on Long Island.
Your digital subscription, starting at $1, supports local journalism vital to the community.SUBSCRIBE NOW
It said that his enterprise — including managers, drivers and bodyguards — contacted women he spotted at concerts or met at locations ranging from malls to fast food restaurants, arrange for backstage visits or transportation to concerts and events.
“Absolute commitment” to him was required, sensitive information was used to keep associates in line, and the multiple women he was involved with were kept separate from each other, isolated from family and made dependent on the singer for their financial well-being.
In a memo seeking detention of Kelly without bail filed Friday, Brooklyn federal prosecutors sketched out details of five alleged “Jane Doe” victims, including three minors and a 19-year-old “Jane Doe 5” whose travel, hotel and tickets he paid for her to attend a 2017 Long Island concert.
After the concert, the government said, he appeared in her hotel and had sex without a condom, without divulging his infectious venereal disease, which she later contracted. He also told her, prosecutors said, that “if she was really 15 or 16 years old, she could tell him, suggesting he would have preferred for Jane Doe 5 to be younger.”
Prior to the federal indictments, Kelly already faced state charges in Illinois involving sex with underage women. He was previously acquitted on child pornography charges.
His lawyer, Steve Greenberg, said in a statement that Kelly was arrested without incident while walking his dog Thursday night, and the charges were not a surprise.
“He and his lawyers look forward to his day in court, to the truth coming out and to his vindication,” Greenberg said in a tweet. “…Most importantly he looks forward to being able to making wonderful music and perform for his legions of fans that believe in him.”