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R. Kelly arrested on federal child pornography charges, US attorney says

Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images

(CHICAGO) — Musician R. Kelly was arrested Thursday on federal child pornography and obstruction of justice charges tied to his alleged behavior in the 1990s with five girls.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago said the 13-count indictment included charges of sexual exploitation of children, conspiracy to defraud the United States, coercion and child pornography.

The singer, who is known for such hits as “I Believe I Can Fly,” was outside while walking his dog when he was arrested, Kelly’s publicist told ABC News. Kelly, who is 52, is set to appear in court on July 16.

The charges are based on R Kelly’s alleged sexual contact with 5 females, identified in court records as Minor 1-5, which were recorded, court records said,

Separately, a five-count indictment has been handed down from the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn that says R Kelly was at the center of an “enterprise” of managers, body guards, drivers and personal assistants “to promote R. Kelly’s music and the R. Kelly brand and to recruit women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with Kelly.”

“R Kelly was arrested in Chicago tonight on charges contained in a 13-count indictment returned today in the Northern District of Illinois,” the attorney’s office said in a statement late Thursday. “The indictment includes charges of child pornography and obstruction of justice.”

The singer was acquitted of prior child pornography charges in 2008, five years after initially being arrested over a video that purported to show the singer with an underage girl.

There was a renewed interest in Kelly’s alleged misdeeds following a miniseries aired earlier this year on Lifetime, called “Surviving R. Kelly,” and featuring interviews with accusers and family members of several alleged victims.

Kelly has always denied allegations of sexual misconduct.

Federal agents searched R. Kelly’s home in Trump Tower Chicago Friday morning.

Kelly was arrested by the New York Police Department, which will eventually bring him to New York City, a police source told ABC News. For now, a law enforcement official told ABC News that Kelly is expected to face charges in Chicago before being extradited to Brooklyn.

The charges are the latest in a number of legal issues for Kelly this year. The singer, whose real name is Robert Kelly, is also facing 10 counts of felony criminal sexual abuse involving four alleged victims, after being arrested by the Cook County Sheriff’s Department in March. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges, some of which date back to 1998.

Kelly last appeared in court in Chicago on June 26, when prosecutors handed over a DVD allegedly containing pornographic images of the singer with a minor.

“We’ll see what it shows,” Kelly’s lawyer, Steve Greenberg, said outside the courthouse last month.

A trial has not been set, but the judge said an early 2020 date is likely. Kelly’s next court hearing in that case is scheduled for Aug. 15.

He has also dealt with a number of child support issues. He was jailed for almost a week in March for failure to pay support dating back eight months for his three children with his ex-wife, Andrea “Drea” Kelly.

The family of Joycelyn Savage, R. Kelly’s girlfriend, met with federal investigators and provided them with physical evidence that they believe contributed to the case against Kelly, according to the family’s lawyer, Gerald Griggs. Savage’s parents appeared in the Lifetime documentary.

“We are satisfied that Federal Authorities believed the families and survivors that were victims of Robert Kelly,” Griggs said in a statement. “We will be traveling to Chicago soon to reunite with Joycelyn. We thank the jurors and prosecutors that returned the indictment against R Kelly. We are hopeful that justice will be served in this case.”

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