explainer

R. Kelly is standing trial this month. Here's a reminder of all the allegations against him.

This post contains mentions of sexual assault and child sexual abuse and may be triggering for some readers.

After lengthy delays due to the pandemic, R. Kelly (full name Robert Sylvester Kelly) is scheduled to stand trial in New York City in the coming weeks.

The 'Ignition' singer was arrested in Chicago in July 2019 on state and federal charges including child sexual exploitation, child pornography production, kidnapping, forced labour, racketeering, and obstruction of justice. 

In the upcoming New York City trial, the 54-year-old singer is facing nine counts of racketeering and various Mann Act violations. (The Mann Act prohibits moving people across US state lines for illegal sexual activity.) 

Watch a clip from documentary Surviving R. Kelly below. Post continues after video.


Prosecutors are alleging that Kelly led "a criminal enterprise" of managers and other employees who allegedly helped Kelly to lure women and girls into illegal sexual activity. The charges involve half a dozen women, whose names have not been made public at this time. 

Prosecutors are also alleging that Kelly’s accusers "were not permitted to leave their room without receiving permission... including to eat or go to the bathroom," and that "the women and girls were required to call Kelly 'Daddy.'"

While Kelly was imprisoned in Chicago following his arrest in 2019, the singer has been moved to the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn ahead of his trial.

The 54-year-old has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him, and vehemently denied all allegations.

Kelly's New York City trial comes following more than two decades of allegations of sexual abuse.

Here is a complete timeline of the allegations:

2020

In an interview last year, Kelly’s alleged victim, Kitti Jones, detailed the singer’s abusive methods.

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The DJ told Dr. Oz she was "starved excessively," often "slapped, kicked" and beaten and had to ask permission from "a runner" to use the bathroom.

During their two-year relationship from 2011 to 2013, Jones said Kelly told her he was "sexually abused" as a child by "a man in the neighbourhood".

"Later in the relationship, there were things that he would ask me to do to him, sexually, that I connected to the abuse," she said.

"And that’s when I would feel really ill doing it to him because I knew where it was coming from. It was some pretty graphic things."

Kitti Jones in 2019. Image: Getty. 

In January 2020, Kelly’s ex-girlfriend and former victim, Azriel Clary, spoke to The Sun about the ways Kelly allegedly abused his victims.

Clary, 22, moved in with Kelly when she was just 17. She became one of Kelly’s many live-in girlfriends and said she was forced to have group sex up to five times a day.

"I think that there’s hundreds of victims out there," she told the publication.

"Robert has his live-in girlfriends, he has girlfriends in every city. He has flings in every city."

Clary alleged that she was often abused by Kelly, detailing one incident where he beat her with a shoe until she was "covered in welts".

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Joycelyn Savage and Azriel Clary in 2019. Image: Getty. 

Prior to this interview, Clary had always maintained Kelly's innocence. In March 2019 she, and Kelly's other girlfriend Joycelyn Savage, told Gayle King on CBS This Morning that they were in a loving relationship with the singer. Looking back, she admitted she was "very naïve and very brainwashed".

"I definitely do believe that I was very naïve and very brainwashed and manipulated by him," she said. "And as much as I hate to say it I'm woman enough and I'm grown enough to admit that yes, I was brainwashed and yes, I was manipulated. And yes, this man did have me wrapped around his finger. If he would have told me to jump, I would have said, 'How high?'"

2019

In January, Lifetime aired the six-part documentary Surviving R. Kelly.

The documentary series saw multiple women accuse the singer of sexual abuse, physical abuse and even starving them.

The series, which is available to stream on Netflix, features 52 interviews with abuse survivors and people from Kelly’s inner circle who came forward with allegations against the singer. The series also detailed all the allegations against the singer to date.

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On January 18, 2019, Kelly's record company RCA dropped him as an artist following the release of the documentary.

In February, R. Kelly was charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse. Authorities confirmed the charges were in relation to four victims, with at least three of them being minors.

In March, R. Kelly denied sexual assault charges against him in a heated interview with CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King

In his first interview since the indictment, Gayle King asked Kelly about allegations that he had sex with women under 18 and that he was physically and verbally abusive.

"Not true," the Grammy-winning singer responded in a clip of the interview played on the CBS Evening News

The singer grew angry and emotional as the interview went on, turning to make his argument directly to the camera. "That's stupid. Use your common sense," he said.

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On the same day the interview aired, Kelly was arrested once again for failing to pay his ex-wife Andrea Kelly more than $160,000 in child support. He was later released when an unidentified person paid this sum for him.

In May 2019, the singer was charged with an additional 11 new counts of sexual assault against a teenage victim. Kelly was then arrested and placed in custody on further charges of sex trafficking two months later in July.

2018

In 2018, the #MuteRKelly campaign was launched in an effort to encourage record label RCA to cut ties with Kelly.

The campaign also called on streaming services including Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music to remove his music from their playlists.

In the same year, the singer was also sued by a former partner who claimed he infected her with an STD intentionally.

2017

In 2017, Buzzfeed published a report accusing the singer of trapping young women in a 'sex cult'.

The allegations came from the parents of several women and three former employees of Kelly.

R. Kelly at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on September 17, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Image: Getty.

Kelly vehemently denied the allegations in the article.

Following the release of BuzzFeed's report, Jerhona Pace spoke out about having sex with Kelly when she was underage.

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Another woman, Kittie Jones, also alleged the star had physically abused her and coerced her into a sexual relationship.

2005

In 2005, Kelly's second wife Andrea Kelly was granted an emergency protective order against Kelly after she alleged he physically abused, harassed and stalked her.

Andrea, who has three kids with the singer, married the star in 1996.

The pair separated in 2005 as Andrea filed for a restraining order.

2002

In 2002, Kelly was sued by two women.

Chicago woman Patrice Jones claimed the singer impregnated her when she was underage. She was later forced to have an abortion.

Another woman, Montina Woods, alleged Kelly had videotaped them having sex without her knowledge or consent.

Both cases were settled out of court and non-disclosure agreements were issued to both women.

Later on in the year, Kelly was charged with 21 counts of making child pornography when he was accused of filming a minor participating in a number of sex acts – including one scene where a woman was reportedly urinated on.

The jury eventually found the singer not guilty, as they were unable to prove whether the girl videoed was underage.

Not long after, he was charged with another further 12 counts of making child exploitation material when police seized a camera at Kelly's property which reportedly showed him having sex with a minor.

The charges were later dropped as Kelly's defence team argued that police didn't have enough evidence to justify searching his property.

Listen to Mamamia's daily news podcast, The Quicky, below. Post continues after podcast.

2001

In 2001, R. Kelly was sued by Tracy Sampson, an intern at Epic Records, who claimed he induced her into a sexual relationship with him when she was underage.

"He often tried to control every aspect of my life including who I could see and where I would go," Sampson said, according to court documents.

1996

In 1996, Tiffany Hawkins sued R. Kelly for "emotional distress" during a lengthy relationship with the performer.

According to court documents, Hawkins began having sex with R. Kelly in 1991, when she was just 15. Kelly was 24 at the time.

A spokesperson for Kelly later claimed that she had "no knowledge" of Hawkins' allegations against the singer.

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1994

In 1994, at 27 years old, R. Kelly married 15-year-old singer Aaliyah.

The illicit relationship was first exposed when Vibe magazine published a copy of a marriage certificate, which showed the pair had wed in Illinois on August 31, 1994. The document stated that Aaliyah was 18 years old at the time, when she was in fact just 15.

Aaliyah in 2000. Image: Getty.

Speaking on the documentary, R. Kelly’s former personal assistant, Demetrius Smith, claimed to be present for the ceremony: "I’m not proud of that. I had papers forged for them when Aaliyah was underage. It was just a quick little ceremony. She didn’t have on a white dress. He didn’t have on a tux. Just everyday wear. She looked worried and scared."

Smith claimed the marriage was annulled by her parents the following year.

It's believed Aaliyah cut personal and professional ties with R. Kelly after the annulment. She refused to speak publicly about the relationship in the years that followed.


If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual assault or abuse, please seek help and contact 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.


This post was originally published in 2019, and has been updated with new information.

Feature Image: Getty.