R. Kelly posted bond, released from jail after pleading not guilty

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By Samira Puskar and David K. Li

CHICAGO — R&B star R. Kelly pleaded not guilty Monday to a series of sexual-abuse charges involving minors, and after posting bond in the afternoon was released from jail, authorities said.

Kelly, 52, wore an orange jumpsuit with DOC on the back for his brief court appearance.

The singer, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, surrendered to police Friday. Hours earlier, prosecutors unsealed his indictment on 10 counts of felony aggravated sexual abuse involving four alleged victims, three of whom were younger than 17.

Each count carries a prison sentence of three to seven years if convicted.

R. Kelly leaves Cook County jail with his defense attorney, Steve Greenberg in Chicago on Feb. 25, 2019.Kamil Krzaczynski / Reuters

Kelly’s bond was set at $1 million Saturday, meaning he had to come up with 10 percent in cash before being released.

There had been a question if Kelly needed to make good on $161,663 in child support dues before posting bail, but lawyers agreed he could post bond even with that debt looming over him.

Kelly was held in the hospital area of the jail.

“He’s doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances,” Steve Greenberg, his lawyer, said. “The jail staff has been great; they got him at the hospital unit, not because he’s sick or anything like that but because that’s the most secure place for him to be, and he’s certainly hoping to get out of jail.”

California attorney Michael Avenatti on Friday claimed that his office gave prosecutors video recordings of Kelly having sex with one of the victims, a 14-year-old girl.

Avenatti, who was in court for the hearing Monday, told reporters afterward that he had handed over to prosecutors another tape uncovered by his investigators of Kelly allegedly “engaged in sexual assault of a minor.” This recording is 55 minutes, was shot around 1999 or 2000 and shows the defendant having sex with the girl, according to Avenatti.

It wasn’t immediately clear if this new footage is of the same alleged victim or another one from Friday’s indictment.

Avenatti did not explain how he came to have the recordings, saying only: “We’re getting our hands on these tapes through the 10-month investigation that we’ve undertaken on a pro-bono basis around the country.”

“This man deserves to be locked up for the rest of his life,” Avenatti said. “This reign of abuse and assault by Mr. Kelly is about to come to an abrupt and permanent end.”

Kelly has consistently denied any wrongdoing in previous allegations made against him over the years.

He was criminally accused of sexual misconduct in 2002, eventually tried on child pornography charges in the same case and cleared by a jury in 2008 on all counts.

But allegations of sexual misconduct against the singer gained renewed attention in January with the airing of a Lifetime docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly.”

Jerhonda Pace, who appeared in the series and claimed she was sexually abused by Kelly as a teenager, attended Monday’s hearing in Chicago.

The six-part docuseries had interviews with numerous women who accuse Kelly of mental, physical and sexual abuse. Sony Music parted ways with Kelly after “Surviving” aired.

Meanwhile, separate from Kelly’s criminal prosecution, a Michigan woman has filed a civil lawsuit against him, claiming she had sex with him when she was a minor.

Heather Williams, 36, said she was 16 on May 26, 1998, when she was walking down a street in Chicago when Kelly approached her and asked if she wanted to appear in a music video, according to her lawsuit filed Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court.

They began having sex in June that year and continued until she was 18 or older, according to her complaint.

Williams’ lawyer, Jeffrey Deutschman, declined to say if his client is the alleged victim identified as “H.W.” in the criminal complaint against Kelly.

The lawyer told NBC Chicago: “I have encouraged my client to cooperate fully with the state’s attorney’s office and the police department in the criminal prosecution, as I think that’s the best chance for justice that she or any other woman can get.”

Puskar and Petty reported from Chicago; Li from New York

Lauren Petty contributed.

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