Singer R. Kelly, pictured here in a booking photo, has pleaded not guilty to sex abuse charges
Chicago (AFP) – R&B superstar R. Kelly on Monday pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of aggravated criminal sex abuse against four victims, three of them minors.
Hands clasped behind his back, the artist stood in a Chicago courtroom wearing an orange jumpsuit as his lawyer entered the plea, three days after Kelly, 52, turned himself in and was arrested.
The judge kept the performer’s bail at $1 million, of which he must pay 10 percent, or $100,000, to be released from jail.
His lawyer Steve Greenberg had said on Saturday that Kelly was not as rich as his fame would suggest.
Michael Avenatti — the high-profile lawyer representing at least two of the alleged victims — separately said Monday that his team had turned over a second, 55-minute long tape to prosecutors that depicts the artist “engaged in illegal sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl.”
“The conduct in the tape can be described as nothing short of outrageous and illegal,” the lawyer told journalists.
Avenatti earlier this month had given Chicago prosecutors approximately 40 minutes of previously unreleased footage of Kelly allegedly having sex with a teenager.
He said his team was in the process of obtaining a third tape of similar nature, and that additional witnesses have come forward over the weekend.
“This reign of abuse and assault by Mr Kelly is about to come to an abrupt and permanent end,” Avenatti said.
Kelly’s next court date is set for March 22.
– Checkered past –
Known for hits like “I Believe I Can Fly,” Kelly surrendered to Chicago police Friday night.
His arrest came after a documentary series renewed attention on decades of accusations against the musician, including child pornography, sex with minors, operating a sex cult and sexual battery.
After a dramatic trial Kelly was acquitted in 2008 of child pornography charges, also in Chicago.
The new 10-count indictment included three minors between 13 and 16 years of age.
Kim Foxx — the state’s attorney for Cook County, which includes Chicago — told journalists the alleged crimes occurred between 1998 and 2010. The charges carry three to seven years of prison per count.
Kelly’s lawyer Greenberg said the charges were based on old and false accusations, saying “all of the women are lying.”
The artist infamously is known for marrying his protege Aaliyah in 1994, when the late R&B star was 15.
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.
But despite the slew of disturbing claims against him, the award-winning musician has continued to perform for years and had maintained a solid fan base.
Last month’s release of an explosive docu-series entitled “Surviving R. Kelly” once again brought accusations against him to the fore, however, while a #MuteRKelly movement aimed at preventing his music from airing has gained steam.
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