Brooklyn prosecutors urged that Kelly be held without bond on the federal charges while they seek to have him sent to New York for a yet-to-be-scheduled hearing.
Singer R. Kelly, already charged with sexual assault in the U.S. state of Illinois, was indicted in federal courts in both New York City and Chicago Friday, for transporting women and female minors across state lines for sex, forcibly keeping them under his control and buying their silence.
In indictments unsealed in Brooklyn and Chicago, federal prosecutors said Kelly, 52, ran a racketeering and human trafficking scheme that required the women and girls to be his slaves.
“The purposes of the enterprise were to promote R. Kelly’s music and the R. Kelly brand and to recruit women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with Kelly,” prosecutors said in the Brooklyn indictment.
Kelly, who was free on bond in the initial Illinois state case, was taken into custody Thursday evening by New York City police detectives and federal agents while he was walking his dog in Chicago, Illinois, said his lawyer, Steve Greenberg.
The R&B singer made a brief court appearance in the U.S. District Court in Chicago Friday and was ordered back on Monday for further proceedings. Kelly, who was handcuffed and wearing orange jail garb, spoke only to reply “yes, your honor” to the federal judge.
Greenberg said in a statement posted on Twitter that the federal charges mostly stem from conduct that is “decades old” and already part of the state case or previous allegations that Kelly had been acquitted of.
“He and his lawyers look forward to his day in court, to the truth coming out and to his vindication from what has been an unprecedented assault by others for their own personal gain,” stated Greenberg.
The five-count Brooklyn racketeering indictment includes multiple allegations going back to 1999, including sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping and forced labor.
Under the alleged scheme, Kelly and his entourage would invite women and girls backstage after concerts, isolate them from friends and family, and make them dependent on him for their financial well-being.
Chicago prosecutors charged in their 13-count indictment that Kelly had sexual contact with five minors, recorded videos of some of them and paid them off to buy their silence.
Prosecutors there said Kelly paid an unidentified individual US$170,000 to cancel a news conference in which that person planned to announce he had tapes of Kelly engaging in sexual activity with minors.
The singer-songwriter “used physical abuse, violence, threats of violence, blackmail and other controlling behaviors against victims so that Kelly could maintain control over them, prevent them from providing evidence to law enforcement, and persuade them to continue to abide by prior false statements,” the indictment read.
The Chicago indictment also charges two of Kelly’s former employees, Derrel McDavid, 58, and Milton Brown, 53, with obstructing the investigation. Kelly, McDavid and Brown are also accused of conspiring to receive child pornography mailed across state lines.
McDavid, who surrendered voluntarily to authorities, appeared briefly at a hearing in the U.S. District Court in Chicago, Friday.
Last month, Kelly pleaded not guilty to 11 new state felony counts of sexual assault and abuse at a Cook County, Illinois court hearing after prosecutors expanded an indictment against him. He has denied abuse accusations for decades.
The Cook County charges involve alleged abuse of a victim between the ages of 13 and 16 that prosecutors said took place between May 2009 and January 2010. In February, Kelly pleaded not guilty to charges that he sexually assaulted three teenage girls and a fourth woman.
Kelly has a decades-long history of abuse allegations, especially of underage girls. In 1994, he wed his protege Aaliyah, the late R&B star who was 15 at the time.
Kelly, then 27, 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.
Despite unsettling claims against him, the decorated musician — known for hits including "I Believe I Can Fly" — has continued to perform and maintain a solid fan base.