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Prosecutors Say They Have Evidence Of More Abuse And Bribery In The R. Kelly Case

R. Kelly, appearing at a hearing in his federal trial in Illinois in Sept. 2019. Kelly currently faces 22 federal charges in two separate indictments: one in New York and one in Illinois.
Antonio Perez
Getty Images
R. Kelly, appearing at a hearing in his federal trial in Illinois in Sept. 2019. Kelly currently faces 22 federal charges in two separate indictments: one in New York and one in Illinois.

Editor's note: This report includes allegations of sexual assault and physical abuse.

Federal prosecutors are seeking to have evidence of what they say are more alleged, but uncharged, crimes committed by R&B singer R. Kelly admitted at his upcoming trial in New York. The allegations include the abuse of teenage girls and women dating as far back as 1991, the sexual abuse of a 17-year-old boy, physical abuse, hush payments and bribery.

The New York indictment, which is one of two sets of federal charges currently levied against Kelly, was filed in March 2020 and includes six alleged victims.

The filing submitted by the prosecutors on Friday includes 20 Jane Does and two John Does. In or around December 2006, the government alleges, Kelly initiated a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old boy whom he had met at a Chicago McDonald's, and directed the boy to have sexual encounters with other people as well.

That boy introduced Kelly to a second teenage boy, John Doe No. 2, who was then 16 or 17 years old, with whom Kelly allegedly tried to start a sexual relationship as well. Several years later, Kelly is alleged to have started having sex with this second John Doe, and also forced several of his girlfriends and other sexual partners, including a minor girl, to have sex with this young man. Prosecutors say that Kelly often filmed those incidents.

The government is also asking the judge to allow video recordings of Kelly physically and verbally abusing two women as evidence at the trial.

The prosecutors also allege that around 1994, Kelly had one of his associates pay an Illinois state employee $500 to create a fake ID for the singer Aaliyah, who was then 15 years old and Kelly's protégée. The purpose, they say, was so that Kelly could marry Aaliyah, because Kelly believed that she was pregnant — and if they were married, she could not then be forced to testify against him in court. (The two were married on Aug. 31, 1994. R. Kelly was indicted in 2002 on 21 counts of child pornography, but was eventually acquitted in 2008. Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001.)

The prosecutors also allege bribery involving Kelly and his associates that transpired far more recently. Following the release of the widely seen Surviving R. Kelly docuseries in early 2019, a person listed in the court filings as Kelly's "crisis manager" allegedly told the singer that he was in contact with "two people" who "know a lot" and suggested that Kelly "figure out what you can do for them," indicating that they were open to being bribed. Kelly allegedly responded by asking how much money was needed. In the same conversation, the "crisis manager" told the singer that he had paid a clerk in Cook County, Ill., $2500 and had given the clerk a burner phone to pass along information about Kelly's legal situation.

Kelly is currently being held in Brooklyn. The two sets of federal charges against him are pending in New York and in Illinois. In all, he faces 22 federal criminal charges that involve allegedly abusing girls and women over the course of more than two decades, and that he led a circle of managers, drivers, bodyguards and other entourage members who helped him. His New York trial is scheduled to begin on Aug. 9.

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Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.
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