From 1994 to 2019: A Timeline Of The Allegations Against R. Kelly

What to know about the claims the singer has dodged for decades

By Lauren Rearick

On Thursday, July 11, R. Kelly was arrested in Chicago, Illinois, on charges stemming from two separate investigations by law enforcement in New York City and Chicago, CNN reported.

In a statement posted on its website, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Illinois confirmed Kelly’s arrest was related to charges of federal child pornography and obstruction. The U.S. District Court in Chicago charged Kelly with nine counts of enticing a minor, three counts of child pornography, and one count of obstruction of justice, the Chicago-Sun Times reported. The office alleged that Kelly engaged in sex acts with five minors and had recorded some of the acts.

The Eastern District of New York charged the singer with racketeering for allegedly operating a criminal enterprise that promoted Kelly’s music and recruited women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Illinois’s statement confirmed.

Steve Greenberg, Kelly’s attorney, addressed the new charges in a statement on Twitter. “The conduct alleged appears to be largely be the same as the conduct previously alleged against Mr. Kelly in his current state indictment and his former state charges that he was acquitted of,” Greenberg wrote. “Most, if not all of the conduct alleged, is decades old. He and his lawyers look forward to his day in court, to the truth coming out and to his vindication from what has been an unprecedented assault by others for their own personal gain.”

Two other men, Derrel McDavid and Milton Brown, were also charged in the Chicago case, the Sun-Times reports. Brown was charged with one count of conspiracy to receive child pornography, while McDavid was charged with one count of conspiracy to receive child pornography, two counts of receiving child pornography, and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice.

According to an indictment filed by the Northern District of Illinois, the Chicago charges date back to the 1990s, when Kelly had allegedly subjected five underage girls to “sexual contact and sexual acts,” recorded the assaults on video, and later lost the recordings, the Chicago-Sun Times reported. (Per RAINN, Illinois law stipulates that sexual acts by someone over 17 made against someone who is at least 13 years old but younger than 18 are considered to be criminal sexual assault.) Kelly and McDavid then allegedly attempted to purchase back the videos from an acquaintance for “hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Per reports, the unnamed acquittance later threatened to hold a news conference about the videos, but Kelly and McDavid allegedly paid the person $170,000 to remain quiet; the charges alleged that the two had also promised to pay one of the minors in the video and another person who attempted to return copies of the videos, and asked them to take a polygraph test to prove they had no other remaining videos in their possession.

The United States District Court of Eastern New York announced the extent of its five counts, which includes kidnapping and sexual exploitation of a child, against Kelly on Friday, NBC 4 reported. Court documents alleged that Kelly and members of his entourage including managers, bodyguards, drivers, and personal assistants had attended Kelly’s concerts with the purpose of recruiting women and girls to engage in sexual activity with Kelly. The documents go on to allege that those targeted by Kelly or his entourage were then required to follow strict rules set forth by the singer.

Kelly is being held in at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, the Sun-Times reported; Greenberg said a bail hearing would likely occur early next week. Based on the results of a Friday, July 12, hearing, it was possible that Kelly could be moved to New York City to face charges there. If Kelly is convicted, he could face up to a 195-year prison sentence, the Sun-Times reported.

These new charges come just six weeks after Cook County, Illinois prosecutors charged R. Kelly with 11 felony counts of sexual abuse; the charges are believed to be related to one individual. The previous charges included four counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, two counts of criminal sexual assault by force, two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and three counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against a minor between the ages of 13 to 16.

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-Timesfollowed 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 Lifetime documentary, Surviving R. Kelly, brought renewed attention to the decades of misconduct allegedly committed by the singer. And while Kelly may continue to deny these accusations, the #MeToo Movement has inspired continued protests and backlash against the singer, including the #MuteRKelly campaign, led by Oronike Odeleye and Kenyette Barnes.

The following is a timeline of what we know of the allegations made against Kelly.

Cook County Sheriff’s Office via Getty Images

R. Kelly Arrested for Unpaid Child Support

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.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

R. Kelly Arrives In Court For Child Pornography Charges

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.

June 2008: After nearly six years of trial delays, Kelly’s case is put before a Chicago jury. When the trial begins, Kelly faces a reduced 14 counts of child pornogaphy, the New York Times reports.

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.”

Gary Miller/WireImage

R Kelly Performs at Bonnaroo

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.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Protestors Rally In Support Of Sex Abuse Survivors At R Kelly's Chicago Studios

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.

April 2018: As another woman comes forward to accuse Kelly of allegedly coercing her to join a “sex cult,” the singer’s lawyer, assistant, and publicist all quit, Billboard reports.

Chance Yeh/Getty Images for A+E

Lifetime / NeueHouse NY Luminaries Present 'Surviving R. Kelly' With Civil Rights Activists And Survivors

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."

The clip garnered criticism from late night talk show hosts while journalists called him “downright hysterical” and “indignant.”

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.

May 2019: Three months after announcing Kelly was being indicted on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sex abuse, Cook County, Illinois prosecutors filed 11 new felony counts of sexual abuse against Kelly, CBS News reported. According to the Sun-Times, the indictment involves one person, who is believed to have been named in the February 2019 indictments.

Kelly faces four counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, two counts of criminal sexual assault by force, two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and three counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against a victim between the ages of 13 to 16; a court appearance has been scheduled for June 6. In a statement released to CNN through Kelly’s crisis manager, Darrell Johnson, Kelly “maintains his innocence and denies all accusations brought against him.”

July 2019: On July 11, Illinois prosecutors charged Kelly with nine counts of enticing a minor, three counts of child pornography, and one count of obstruction of justice in a federal indictment, the Chicago-Sun Times reported. Federal prosecutors in New York City also charged the singer with racketeering and kidnapping, alleging that Kelly attempted to recruit women and girls that attended his concerts to engage in illegal sexual activity, NBC 4 reported.

Kelly’s attorney again denied the charges, saying, “The conduct alleged appears to largely be the same as the conduct previously alleges against Mr. Kelly in his current State indictment and his former State charges that he was acquitted of," Greenberg said. "Most, if not all of the conduct alleged, is decades old."

This is an ongoing timeline and MTV News will update as news develops.

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