August 2, 2019 / 10:00 AM / 3 months ago

Singer R. Kelly makes first New York court appearance on sex trafficking charges

    By Brendan Pierson
    NEW YORK, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Singer R. Kelly is expected to
plead not guilty in New York on Friday to charges that he ran a
criminal scheme in which he recruited women and underage girls
to have sex with him, isolating them and often controlling what
they ate and when they went to the bathroom.
    Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn say that Kelly and his
entourage invited women and girls backstage after concerts, kept
them from friends and family and made them dependent on him
financially.
    The R&B artist is scheduled to enter the plea at a 10:30
a.m. (1630 GMT) hearing before a federal magistrate to charges
including racketeering and violations of a federal trafficking
law.
    Kelly's lawyer, Douglas Anton, said in a court filing on
Wednesday that Kelly's fans were "dying to be with him" and that
the charges amounted to "groupie remorse." here
             
    Gloria Allred, a lawyer representing three of Kelly's
accusers, said Anton's filing had given prosecutors a preview of
what Kelly's defense may be.
    "If that’s all he’s got, I think he’s going to have major
challenges in this case," Allred said.
    The singer, 52, known for such hits as “I Believe I Can Fly”
and “Bump N’ Grind,” was arrested in Chicago last month on the
Brooklyn charges and a separate set of charges brought by
federal prosecutors in Chicago.
    The charges were brought after seven women including his
ex-wife, appeared on a Lifetime television documentary which
aired in January and accused him of emotional and sexual abuse.
    The R&B singer has denied abuse allegations for decades. In
2008, he was tried on child pornography charges and found not
guilty.
    Chicago prosecutors said that Kelly had sexual contact with
five minors and recorded sexually explicit videos of some of
them. 
    They also accused Kelly of obstructing justice by using
threats and bribes, including payments of hundreds of thousands
of dollars, to keep his victims quiet.
    Kelly has pleaded not guilty to those charges. A judge in
Chicago ordered that he remain jailed while he awaits trial.
            
    In addition to the two federal cases, Kelly was charged with
10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse in a Cook County, Illinois
state court in February. The Cook County prosecutors have
accused Kelly of abusing a victim between the ages of 13 and 16
between May 2009 and January 2010.
    Kelly pleaded not guilty to the state charges.
    Kelly faces a maximum prison sentence of more than 200 years
for all the charges pending against him.

 (Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Noeleen
Walder and Grant McCool)
  
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