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R. Kelly Pleads Not Guilty To Racketeering And Sex Trafficking Charges In New York

NEW YORK (CBS) -- R. Kelly's lawyers said he was "irritated" Friday after his bail was denied in a sex crimes case in New York.

The singer is expected back in Chicago soon. His lawyers believe he could be brought back to Illinois before the end of the day Friday.

Alice Gainer of WCBS-TV, CBS 2 in New York was in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn Friday when Kelly issued his plea.

Kelly, 52, sat handcuffed in between his lawyers as one of theme entered the plea on his behalf to a five count indictment charging him with racketeering and sex trafficking.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven Tiscione ruled that Kelly will remain locked up.


The New York charges stem from five women and girls who are identified only as "Jane Does" in court documents.

The alleged incidents date back to 1999.

The New York indictment specifically charges Kelly with five felony counts, including racketeering and Mann Act violations, which involve transporting a person across state lines to engage in illegal sexual activity. The racketeering case also accuses him of kidnapping, sexual exploitation of a child, and forced labor.

"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," Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent In Charge Angel Melendez said. "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."

Court documents indicate that Kelly met one victim at a concert, and another at a radio station. Prosecutors allege Kelly arranged for some victims to meet him on the road for illegal sex.

The documents detail one alleged incident on Long Island in 2017 when Kelly engaged in sexual activity without telling the alleged victim that he had an STD.

Federal prosecutors said Kelly and his managers, bodyguards, and other employees acted as a criminal enterprise to recruit women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with Kelly. Kelly and his enterprise would pick out women and girls who attended his concerts and other events; and arranged for them to travel to see Kelly. He would later hold them against their will, according to the feds.

Once the women and girls Kelly had picked started staying with him, he and his employees would set rules his victims had to follow, including not leaving their rooms without Kelly's permission, even to eat or go to the bathroom; not looking at other men; to wear baggy clothing whenever they weren't with him; demanding absolute commitment to Kelly; and calling the singer "Daddy."

Kelly allegedly coerced some of the girls he'd abused to engage in sexually explicit conduct on video, which he later had shipped across state lines.

Seated between defense attorneys Douglas Anton and Steve Greenberg, Kelly was stoic and kept his gaze down for most of the hearing on Friday.

His live-in girlfriends, Azriel Clary and Joycelyn Savage, attended the hearing to show their support for Kelly. His sister, brother, and supporters were also present.

Kelly fans also gathered outside the federal courthouse on Friday. They wore T-shirts and even crowns saying, "Free and unmute R. Kelly" to make their message clear.

When asked about the accusations and claims against the R&B singer, the fans remained steadfast.

"They were rehearsed," said one fan. "They're all fake. I don't believe it."

Meanwhile in court, Kelly's defense team called the alleged victims "disgruntled groupies." They say in some states, despite some of the girls being teenagers, they were still of the legal age to give consent. They also questioned the credibility of at least one of Kelly's accusers.

"I'd say 'irritated' might be a way to describe it, but he's not a happy person," said defense attorney Anton. "But he understands the system. He's been through this before and was acquitted. That seems to be lost in the shuffle."

Gloria Allred represents some of the Jane Does.

"They are not groupies," Allred said. "They are instead brave victims who are seeking justice. Some are victims of child sexual abuse by Mr. Kelly."

Kelly's lawyers say they will request the judge reconsider bail, since they say they need more time with him to go over material.

"We're dealing with someone who can't read," Greenberg said. "So much of their case is based on documents he can't read, so it's going to be a mess."

Outside of court, Kelly's two girlfriends would not talk.

At a separate hearing later Friday, prosecutors told a judge they would begin turning over evidence to the defense next week. Prosecutors and defense attorneys are working on a protective order that would prohibit the release of or public comments on evidence in the case.

In Chicago, U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber approved a protective order on evidence in the child pornography and obstruction case earlier this week.

Kelly already been ordered held without bond in his separate Chicago case, in which he is accused of producing and receiving child pornography, obstruction of justice, and coercing minors to engage in sex. Kelly's attorneys also are asking the Chicago judge to reconsider his ruling denying Kelly bail.

In the Chicago case, federal prosecutors have said Kelly and two associates paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to recover tapes of him sexually abusing the girl at the center of his 2008 child pornography trial and coerced the victim and her family to lie about what happened.

Federal prosecutors have suggested they could file a more far-ranging indictment in the case against Kelly and two associates, potentially adding new charges and additional defendants.

Meantime, Kelly also faces more than 20 charges of sexual abuse and sexual assault in Cook County. He was first charged in February with 10 counts of sexual abuse involving four females, including three children.

The charges in the case identify the victims only by initials and the dates of the alleged abuse:

• H.W. (13-16 years of age), who Kelly allegedly abused between May 26, 1998, and May 25, 1999;
• J.P. (13-16 years of age), who Kelly allegedly abused between May 1, 2009, and Jan. 31, 2010;
• R.L. (13-16 years of age), who Kelly allegedly abused between Sept. 26, 1998, and Sept. 25, 2001;
• L.C. (no age given), who Kelly allegedly abused on Feb. 18, 2003.

In May, he was charged with an additional 11 felony counts involving one of those victims, identified only as JP.

According to the new charges, Kelly engaged in sex acts with JP in January 2010 "by the use of force or threat of force and ... acted in such a manner as to threaten or endanger the life of JP."

The most serious charges in Cook County, four counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, carry prison terms of up to 30 years in prison.

His next hearing on the Cook County case is scheduled for Aug. 15. Cook County prosecutors have said they expect to decide by then which of the four cases they plan to pursue first. The judge in that case has said he wants to set a trial date for early next year.

Kelly's next New York court date is scheduled for Oct. 2. His lawyers waived his appearance for that date, so he will not be present in court for it.

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