By Lauren Rearick
On Wednesday, March 6, R. Kelly appeared on CBS This Morning to defend himself against recent charges of sexual abuse brought forth by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office in February of this year. In his first public comments since posting bail for the charges shortly after arrest, Kelly denied any wrongdoing, screaming and crying his way through an interviewed that featured him saying, “I'm very tired of all of the lies.”
Since 1994, Kelly has faced continued allegations of sexual misconduct, beginning with a marriage to Aaliyah that allegedly occurred when the singer was a teenager. An exposé published by the Chicago Sun-Times followed in 2000; Kelly later faced several lawsuits and charges in 2001 and 2002. (Some were settled out of court, and Kelly was eventually found not guilty by a jury on charges of child pornography.) Moreover, the recent Lifetime documentary, Surviving R. Kelly, has brought renewed attention to the decades of misconduct allegedly committed by the singer. And while Kelly may continue to deny these accusations, the recent rise of the #MeToo Movement has inspired continued protests and backlash against the singer, including the #MuteRKelly campaign, led by Oronike Odeleye and Kenyette Barnes.
With the singer returning to jail on Wednesday, March 6, for unpaid child support, it’s yet unclear what may happen next. Details are continuing to emerge regarding Kelly’s circumstances; the following is a timeline of what we know of the allegations made against Kelly.
August 1994: After previously working together on the 1993 release of Aaliyah's debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number, Kelly and the singer are married in a ceremony on August 31, as detailed in a WBEZ timeline by the journalist Jim DeRogatis.
It was discovered by Vibe that an altered birth certificate, which listed Aaliyah as being 18, had been used to obtain a marriage certificate. According to a video featuring R. Kelly from 1994, which was later resurfaced by TMZ in 2019, the singer knew Aaliyah was underaged; he identified her in the video as being 14 years old. He would later claim he had “no idea” she was 15 at the time of their marriage.
The marriage was later annulled in October 1994, as reported by WBEZ.
December 1996: Tiffany Hawkins files a $10 million lawsuit against Kelly, alleging that she experienced “personal injuries and emotional distress,” during a three-year period she spent with the singer beginning in 1991, the Chicago Sun Times reports. Kelly denies her allegations.
According to Hawkins, she allegedly started seeing a 24-year-old Kelly when she was 15. The suit was settled out of court.
Kelly later countersues Hawkins, alleging that she demanded “substantial sums of cash” and help with her singing career, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. His suit was voluntarily dismissed.
December 2000: In a report published by the Chicago Sun Times and written by Jim DeRogatis and Abdon Pallasch, it’s confirmed that the Chicago Police Department had investigated reports of Kelly engaging in sexual acts with underage girls. The story examined Kelly’s past relationships with Aaliyah, Hawkins, and Chicago-area students. According to their reporting, interviews and court records told of multiple instances in which Kelly would allegedly “seek out underage females.”
December 2001: In a second lawsuit filed against Kelly, then-17-year-old Tracy Sampson accuses the singer of beginning a relationship with her, according to the WBEZ timeline. In her lawsuit, Sampson, a former intern with Epic Records, alleges that Kelly forced her to engage in sexual acts and that she was “coerced into receiving oral sex from a girl I did not want to have sex with.”
During a Dateline interview that aired in 2019, Sampson said the case was settled out of court in 2002.
February 2002: The Chicago Sun-Times was the recipient of a tape that depicted Kelly have sex with an underage girl, MTV reported at the time. The Chicago police confirmed to MTV that they too had a copy of the tape and were investigating what was on it.
Although the identity of the girl on the tape was not made public, MTV reported that Sparkle, an artist who collaborated with Kelly on her 1998 single “Be Careful,” alleged it was her 14-year-old niece in the video, and that she had introduced her niece to the rapper.
In a statement made to MTV, Chicago police spokesperson Officer Pat Camden, said, “Until our investigation is complete, we can't confirm or deny that [Sparkle is the girl's aunt].”
As the New York Times reported that year, Kelly denied that he was the man on the tape in an interview with BET.
April and May 2002: Kelly is sued twice within a two-month period, the BBC reports. According to MTV, Chicago resident Patrice Jones sued the singer for allegedly starting a sexual relationship with her when she was 16 years old.
In her suit, Jones also alleges that she became pregnant during her time with Kelly, and that she was made to have an abortion. The suit was later settled out of court and Kelly’s lawyer Gerry Margolis called the case “a collection of half-truths, distortions, and outright lies.”
One month later, a 33-year-old Montina Woods sues Kelly, alleging that the singer had been secretly recording them having sex, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. In a statement given to MTV at the time, representatives for Kelly called the suit “ridiculous and nonsensical.”
The case was settled out of court.
June 2002: The Chicago Police Department and the Cook County State Attorney’s Office announce that Kelly has been indicted and charged with 21 counts of child pornography. In a press release as reported by MTV, the Chicago Police Department alleges that Kelly “videotaped various sex acts with a minor female” between November 1997 and February 1998.
According to CBS, Kelly was released on $750,000 bail after pleading not guilty.
The trial goes into June, and features testimony from 14 people who knew and confirmed the identity of the minor depicted in the tape, WBEZ reports. Additionally, Stephanie Edwards, who had worked as Kelly’s assistant, identified the video as featuring the singer in it.
The jury deliberates for one day before finding Kelly not guilty. In an interview with the Chicago Sun-=Times, a jury member explained the decision, saying, “Neither side proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt, but that's why we had to go for not guilty.”
July 2017: Following his acquittal, Kelly returns to the limelight, is featured as a festival headliner at Bonnaroo, performs at the 2010 World Cup, and is honored by Billboard in 2011. However, in July 2017, Buzzfeed publishes an article by Jim DeRogatis that includes new allegations against Kelly.
The article alleges that six women, between the ages of 18 and 31, are being held at homes owned by Kelly in Chicago and Atlanta. Speaking with family members of the women involved and former associates of Kelly’s, Buzzfeed reports that Kelly forces the women to dress in jogging suits, oversees their phone calls, and reportedly “verbally” and “physically” abuses any of the women who do not follow his rules.
In an emailed statement to Buzzfeed, Kelly’s lawyer, Linda Mensch, denies the charges. “We can only wonder why folks would persist in defaming a great artist who loves his fans, works 24/7, and takes care of all of the people in his life,” she wrote.
August to October 2017: Following the release of Buzzfeed’s story, two women come forward to share allegations of sexual misconduct committed by Kelly.
In an interview with Buzzfeed, Jerhonda Pace alleges that she started a sexual relationship with Kelly in 2008. At the time, she was 16 years old. Pace alleges that Kelly secretly filmed their sexual encounters, required her to dress in baggy clothes, and forced her to ask permission before doing anything.
Pace admitted that she had initially lied about her age to Kelly, telling him she was 19. When she told Kelly the truth, he reportedly responded by telling her it was “fine,” but said she should continue to tell others she was 19 years old.
Representatives for Kelly denied the reports, telling Buzzfeed, “The allegations against Mr. Kelly are false, and are being made by individuals known to be dishonest. It is clear these continuing stories are the result of the effort of those with personal agendas who are working in concert to interfere with and damage his career.”
During an October interview with Rolling Stone, Kitti Jones detailed the “red flags” she encountered during her two-year relationship with Kelly. The former DJ — who CNN reports was in her 30s at the time — alleges that Kelly physically assaulted her, forced her to have sex with other women, and dictated her life.
In a statement to Rolling Stone, representatives for Kelly denied the accusations. “It is unfortunate that Ms. Jones, after public statements to the contrary, is now attempting to portray a relationship history with Mr. Kelly as anything other than consensual involvement between two adults,” they wrote.
December 2018 to January 2019: Lifetime begins airing Surviving R. Kelly, a documentary series by the filmmaker dream hampton that examines past and current allegations of sexual misconduct allegedly committed by the singer. Through interviews with music journalists, survivors of Kelly’s alleged misconduct, and those who once knew Kelly, the series brought further attention to stories that once made headlines. Additionally, artists including Chance the Rapper and Lady Gaga came forward to apologize for their past collaborations with Kelly.
In a statement to CNN, Steve Greenberg, Kelly’s attorney, denies any wrongdoing. "Someone with an agenda has done a hit piece,” he said.
February 2019: On February 22, 2019, the Cook County State’s Attorney announces Kelly is being indicted on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, CNN reports. The indictments involve four victims between the ages of 13 and 16. The alleged incidents of misconduct reportedly occurred between 1998 and 2010.
The New Yorker reports that Kelly is also being investigated by the investigative division of the Department of Homeland Security, the F.B.I., and the I.R.S.
Greenberg denied the charges made against Kelly, saying, “I think all the women are lying.”
On February 25, Kelly is released from jail after paying the $100,000 bail, Variety reported.
March 2019: In an interview with Gayle King that aired Wednesday, March 6, on CBS This Morning, Kelly denied all of the recent charges made against him. He also denied ever having sex with an underage girl. "I have been assassinated,” he said. “I have been buried alive. But I'm alive."
On the same day that his interview aired, Kelly was taken back to prison, CBS reports. After failing to pay $161,663 in child support, the singer was arrested, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to the Associated Press. A hearing regarding the owed child support is set for March 13, 2019, the Associated Press reports. Kelly will remain in prison until he is able to pay the money owed.
This is an ongoing timeline and MTV News will update as news develops.