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R. Kelly is well known for hits such as “Ignition (Remix),” “I Believe I Can Fly,” and the infamous “Trapped in the Closet” saga, but at this point, he might be best known for the decades of sexual assault scandals surrounding his career. Sexual assault allegations against R. Kelly first prominently emerged in 2000, when music critic Jim DeRogatis began his career-defining quest to expose the artist’s alleged history of sexual assault of minors. Eight years later, the singer faced charges that he had sex with an underage girl on whom he, infamously, was accused of urinating, but he was fully acquitted. Last week, though, new charges were filed against him.
Upon Lifetime’s January 2019 premiere of the docuseries Surviving R. Kelly, public interest in the scandal resurged. The series’ executive producer, Dream Hampton, gave interview after interview discussing the need to spotlight Kelly’s supposed targeting of young black girls and roping them into what many have described as a “sex cult.” She and the series’ team spoke with more than 50 people, including his accusers, ex-wife, siblings, and other people with whom Kelly has worked. The series plotted a timeline of Kelly’s sexual assault accusations dating back to the ‘90s.
Fast forward nearly two months, when R. Kelly turned himself into the Chicago Police Department on Feb. 22. Kelly’s decision came after a Cook County, Illinois judge issued a warrant for his arrest; this warrant charges Kelly with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. A video that surfaced on February 14, in which Kelly allegedly sexually assaulted a minor, may have directly led to these charges.
These charges pertain to four victims, of whom at least three were minors between the ages of 13 and 16, between 1998 and 2010. In 1998, Kelly was 31; in 2010, he was 43.
Upon his arrest, Kelly’s bond was set at $100,000, which he did not meet. He thus appeared in court the next day to face a judge who set his bail at $1 million– 10 times the bond amount that he didn’t pay before his Feb. 23 court appearance. According to Kelly’s lawyer, his longtime record label’s decision to drop him in the wake of Surviving R. Kelly crippled his finances.
R. Kelly pled not guilty to the charges against him and paid the $1 million bail.
The arrival of R. Kelly’s bail payment coincided with two major developments. A woman who was 16 in 1998 filed a new lawsuit in which she is accusing him of sexually assaulting her during that year, and the New York Times published an op-ed written by Lisa VanAllen, who testified against Kelly in the 2008 case for which he was acquitted.
As R. Kelly left jail, stories emerged that some of his female fans may want to help pay his legal costs, including his bail. Some journalists have reported that, immediately upon his release, Kelly went straight to the spot where he has been accused of targeting young girls for his alleged sexual assaults.