NEW YORK — Robert Sylvester Kelly, AKA “R. Kelly,” was arrested in Chicago Thursday night following an investigation by the joint Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York and New York City Police Department (NYPD) Public Safety Task Force and special agents with HSI Chicago.
A five-count superseding indictment was unsealed Friday in federal court in Brooklyn charging R&B singer “R. Kelly” with racketeering predicated on criminal conduct including sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping, forced labor and Mann Act violations involving the coercion and transportation of women and girls in interstate commerce to engage in illegal sexual activity. Kelly is also charged with four counts of violating the Mann Act related to his interstate transportation of a victim to New York to engage in illegal sexual activity, and his exposure of her to an infectious venereal disease without her knowledge. Kelly was also charged in a separate federal indictment unsealed in the Northern District of Illinois with federal child pornography and obstruction charges.
Kelly is scheduled to appear at the federal courthouse in Chicago, Illinois. On a later date, Kelly will be arraigned on this superseding indictment in Brooklyn.
“R. Kelly’s Enterprise was not only engaged in music; as alleged, for two decades the enterprise at the direction of R. Kelly preyed upon young women and teenagers whose dreams of meeting a superstar, soon turned into a nightmare of rape, child pornography, and forced labor. The musician turned predator allegedly used his stardom to coax some victims into nefarious sex acts while certain members of his enterprise calculatingly facilitated the aberrant conduct. Today’s indictment charging racketeering is a clear indication of the extent of his criminal activity, which involves coercion and kidnapping,” said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI New York. “This investigation was built with the foresight of special agents and detectives assigned to the joint HSI and NYPD Public Safety Task Force, along with prosecutors of the Eastern District of New York’s Civil Rights Section. R. Kelly believed he could fly, but it will be justice to see his oppressive wings clipped.”
“The NYPD is committed to ensuring that child predators are taken off our streets and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I thank our skilled NYPD detectives and our law enforcement partners for their unified work to provide justice for the victims of these despicable crimes. Those who engage in these reprehensible offenses against our most vulnerable will be pursued relentlessly, and held accountable for the pain and suffering they cause,” stated James P. O’Neill, NYPD Commissioner.
“As alleged, R. Kelly, together with employees and members of his entourage, engaged in a racketeering enterprise that preyed upon women and girls attending his concerts, identifying victims for him to engage in illegal sexual activity with, facilitating their travel and housing, and proscribing their movement, clothing and interactions with other men,” stated United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard P. Donoghue. “Today that comes to an end. This indictment makes clear that neither fame, power nor status will shield from prosecution predators who victimize members of our communities for their own sexual gratification.” Mr. Donoghue expressed his grateful appreciation to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois for their assistance during the investigation.
According to the indictment and other court filings, Kelly and individuals who served as his managers, bodyguards, drivers, personal assistants and runners, as well as members of his entourage, comprised a racketeering enterprise (the Enterprise) that operated for more than two decades in New York, Illinois, Connecticut and California. Kelly, as leader of the Enterprise, used his fame to recruit women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with him and others. The indictment alleges that Kelly identified these girls and women and then directed members of the Enterprise to escort them backstage or to events following his musical performances. Kelly also exchanged contact information with girls and women so that he and other members of the Enterprise could arrange travel and lodging for them to visit Kelly and engage in the charged illegal sexual conduct.
Kelly issued rules that many of his sexual partners were required to follow, including that the women and girls were to call him “Daddy;” they were not permitted to leave their rooms to eat or visit the bathroom without receiving his permission; they were required to wear baggy clothing when not accompanying Kelly to an event; and they were directed to keep their heads down and not look at other men. Kelly also isolated the women and girls from their friends and family, and made them dependent on him for their financial well-being.
Early Friday, federal agents executed a search warrant at Kelly’s residence.
If convicted, Kelly faces a sentence of up to 20 years’ imprisonment for the racketeering and two Mann Act Coercion and Enticement counts respectively, and up to 10 years’ imprisonment for each of the Mann Act Transportation counts. The government’s case is being handled by the EDNY’s Civil Rights Section.