Each count carries a sentence of three to seven years.
A Chicago judge issued a no-bail arrest warrant for the singer, according to the Associated Press. Kelly is expected to appear in bond court Saturday afternoon, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said at a Friday news conference. She offered no further comment on her office’s investigation.
Kelly has come under intense scrutiny since Lifetime aired a widely watched docuseries last month called “Surviving R. Kelly,” which took a sweeping look at years of sexual misconduct allegations against the singer. Following the television program, the Illinois prosecutor made a public plea requesting that potential witnesses or victims related to claims against Kelly come forward.
“There is nothing to be done to investigate these allegations without the cooperation of both victims and witnesses,” Foxx said at a news conference in January. “We cannot seek justice without you.”
Kelly has long denied wrongdoing. Steve Greenberg, a lawyer for Kelly, did not immediately respond to The Washington Post’s inquiries. He previously said that Kelly “denies that he has engaged in any illegal conduct, of any kind whatsoever.”
The indictments filed Friday detail offenses committed against four individuals. The oldest incidents date between May 1998 and May 1999, when Kelly was at least 31 years old and the alleged victim was under 17. The most recent incidents involve another minor and took place between May 2009 and January 2010, according to the charging documents.
“R. Kelly will have to account for the harm he committed against a number of survivors,” said Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, in a statement. “This moment is an example of what a movement, when equipped with people power and resilience, can achieve, but the work is not over.”
Oronike Odeleye, who co-founded #MuteRKelly, a movement urging radio stations and concert venues to stop promoting Kelly’s music, said in a statement that she was “cautiously optimistic that these latest charges against R. Kelly will finally lead to justice for his many victims.”
Lawyer Michael Avenatti, who last week said he turned over to Foxx’s office a VHS tape that allegedly shows Kelly engaging in sexual activity with a minor, said in a news conference Friday evening that he represents two of Kelly’s alleged victims, one of whom was included in the indictment. He declined to specify the age of his client.
On Thursday, during a news conference with their lawyer, Gloria Allred, two women accused Kelly of sexual misconduct. Allred, a prominent women’s rights attorney, is representing several women who allege sexual abuse by Kelly. She wrote in a statement Friday that “the wheels of justice are turning.”
Pressure mounted on Kelly following the Lifetime docuseries, which was one of the network’s highest-rated programs in years. Lifetime, which announced earlier this week that it would re-air “Surviving R. Kelly” on Monday, said in a statement: “We are proud that Lifetime was able to provide a platform for survivors to be heard.”
Kelly and his label, Sony subsidiary RCA Records, parted ways last month. Musicians who collaborated with him in the past, including Lady Gaga and Chance the Rapper, have apologized for working with him.
In 2008, Kelly was tried on several counts of child pornography. The trial stemmed from a sex tape that was mailed in 2002 to Jim DeRogatis, a Chicago Sun-Times music critic. DeRogatis turned the tape over to authorities, who filed charges against the singer. More than a dozen witnesses at the trial identified the person in the video as an underage girl — but the alleged victim and her parents did not testify. Kelly was acquitted on all 14 counts.
Last year, The Post’s Geoff Edgers reported that decades of overlooking the singer’s alleged behavior “played out on many levels, from the billionaire record executive who first signed the dynamic young vocalist in the early 1990s to the low-paid assistants who arranged flights, food and bathroom breaks for his traveling entourage of young women.”
Kelly illegally married his 15-year-old protege Aaliyah in 1994, when he was 27. Edgers wrote that their marriage, which was annulled the following year, became part of a “culture of open secrets and official avoidance” around the singer and his alleged actions.