R&B singer R. Kelly pleaded not guilty on a 13-count indictment in U.S. District Court in Chicago on Tuesday. The indictment includes seven charges related to child pornography, five counts of enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice.
The singer appeared before Judge Harry D. Leinenweber in an orange jumpsuit at Dirksen U.S. courthouse in Chicago. Kelly had been held in Metropolitan Correction Center in Chicago since his arrest on Thursday. The judge also denied R. Kelly’s petition for bond and has remanded the singer back to custody.
“He is an extreme danger to the community, especially to minor girls,” prosecutors told Leinenweber, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. They called videos of alleged sexual encounters with underage girls “sadomasochistic abuse,” per The Chicago Tribune, and argued against granting bail to the singer, claiming that he is a flight risk. “The defendant can entice girls to his own doorstep,” prosecutors added in their argument against electronic monitoring. “He doesn’t have to leave his home to do that.” Kelly faces 195 years in prison if convicted on the charges.
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Kelly’s criminal attorney Steve Greenberg argued that the singer was not a flight risk, saying, “Unlike his most famous song, ‘I Believe I Can Fly,’ Mr. Kelly doesn’t like to fly” (Greenberg made the same joke at bond hearing for Kelly in February.) He also noted that Kelly does not have the funds to flee, saying, “The money’s in concerts and he doesn’t play concerts these days.”
As to whether Kelly still presented a potential threat, Greenberg said, “There’s no evidence that he’s a risk to minors at all at this point.” He also disputed claims that Kelly had tried to influence potential witnesses, saying, “There’s no evidence, your honor, at this point — and there’s no evidence because it hasn’t happened — that since Mr. Kelly has heard these rumors [of criminal charges] swirling around… that he’s done anything to any witness.”
Greenberg also stated that Kelly was “entitled to be held in a humane situation” and that he was “a difficult person” to hold at the Metropolitan Corrections Center “because of other prisoners… because of [Kelly’s] notoriety.”
On Thursday, federal indictments against Kelly in Chicago and New York were made public. Per the Northern District of Illinois indictment, Kelly allegedly engaged in sexual acts with five victims when they were all under the age of 18; he recorded numerous explicit videos with four of them. There are 12 unique victims that are listed in the New York and Chicago indictments, per an assistant U.S. attorney. The indictments also allege Kelly and his former manager Darrell McDavid paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to an acquaintance to collect the videos in order to conceal and cover up their existence. McDavid and Milton “June” Brown are also charged in the Chicago case. It also alleges Kelly and McDavid agreed to pay one of the minors and another individual for their efforts to return the videos, but only after subjecting themselves to polygraph tests that confirmed they had returned all the copies they had.
A separate federal indictment in Eastern District of New York was also unsealed on Thursday, which charges Kelly with racketeering for allegedly operating a criminal enterprise that recruited girls and women to engage in illegal sexual activity across several states. An attorney for Kelly did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.
If convicted on the Chicago charges, Kelly could face a minimum of five and maximum of 20 years on each of the child pornography charges. The maximum sentence for enticement of a minor is 10 years and conspiracy to obstruct justice is punishable up to five years.
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