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R&B singer R. Kelly

R.Kelly charged with criminal sexual abuse in Illinois

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Chicago — Illinois prosecutors have filed sexual abuse charges against R&B singer R. Kelly. The 52-year-old Grammy winner faces 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced Friday.

Kelly is accused of abusing four victims, at least three of whom were allegedly underage, in incidents that date back to 1998, according the indictment. The most recent alleged abuse was in 2010. There is no statute of limitations for child sex abuse in Illinois, the station reported.

Nine of the counts specify the victim was between 13 and 16, and one count did not specify any ages, CBS Chicago reported. The charges are class 2 felonies and carry a potential sentence of three to seven years per count, Foxx said.

Foxx did not detail the alleged abuse at the brief Friday press conference.

Judge Dennis Porter signed a no-bail warrant for Kelly’s arrest at 9:30 a.m. Friday, the station reported. According to court records, his first court date has been scheduled for March 8. If he is convicted on all 10 counts, a judge could decide that the sentences run one after the other, making it possible that he receives a sentence of up to 70 years behind bars, the Associated Press reported. Probation is another option under the statute, Foxx said.

Kelly is expected to appear in bond court Saturday.

Defense attorney Steve Greenberg told the station he’s not aware of the charges. Kelly has for decades faced allegations of sexual misconduct with underage girls, but had denied them. Greenberg has maintained the singer’s innocence and said that he never knowingly had sex with underage girls.

“I have a client who hasn’t committed any crime, so I don’t have a lot of work to do as a criminal defense lawyer,” Greenberg told CBS News last week.

Last month, Foxx asked for possible alleged victims of sexual assault or domestic violence by Kelly to come forward after the “deeply, deeply disturbing” allegations outlined in the Lifetime docu-series “Surviving R. Kelly.”

“In order to have an investigation … we have to have victims and witnesses who are willing to come forth with whatever information that they have,” Foxx said.

The docu-series, which aired on Lifetime, features 50 interviews, including accuser Jerhonda Pace; the parents of one of Kelly’s alleged victims; Kelly’s ex-wife, Andrea Kelly; ex-girlfriend Kitti Jones and brothers Carey and Bruce Kelly.

Foxx said she saw some of the docu-series.

“I was sickened,” she said. “I was sickened by the allegations. I was sickened as a survivor. I was sickened as a mother. I’m sickened as a prosecutor.”

Last week, a law enforcement source told CBS News that prosecutors in Chicago have obtained a nearly 45-minute video that purportedly shows Kelly engaging in sex acts a 14-year-old girl.

Lawyer Michael Avenatti turned the video over to the Cook County state’s attorney and told CBS News he got the tape from someone who knows both Kelly and the alleged victim “extremely well.” He described it as a “bombshell of epic proportions.” CBS News has not viewed any of the footage, but Avenatti said he and Illinois prosecutors are certain Kelly is the man on the tape.

In a tweet Friday, Avenatti said, “After 25 years of serial sexual abuse and assault of underage girls, the day of reckoning for R. Kelly has arrived.”

Avenatti, who was approached by an individual seeking representation in April, said he received the tape earlier this month. The tape is believed to be from the late 1990s. He claims R. Kelly’s voice can be heard on the recording and that a telltale mole on his back is clearly visible.

“This is deviant conduct … R. Kelly deserves to spend the rest of his life in a penitentiary,” Avenatti said. “There’s 2 different scenes shot on two separate days on this tape … I was disgusted by what I viewed …This is a disgusting video.”

CBS News has confirmed the video was recently turned over to the Cook County state’s attorney in Chicago, where Kelly lives.

Kelly was acquitted on child pornography charges in 2008 after disputing he was the man seen in a grainy video having sex with an underage girl.  Avenatti said the tape in that case is different from the one he provided. He did not say whether the new tape showed a different alleged victim.

On Thursday, two new Kelly accusers spoke out publicly with their lawyer, Gloria Allred. The women, Latresa Scaff and Rochelle Washington, said Kelly picked them out of a crowd at a Baltimore party in the 1990s when both were underage, asked them back to his hotel and exposed himself. Scaff said she engaged in sexual activity with Kelly, but said she was under the influence of marijuana and alcohol and didn’t have the capacity to consent.

Allred said the two women planned to meet with the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York, the AP reports. She reportedly didn’t say why she had chosen that jurisdiction for alleged crimes in Maryland.

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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