The Chicago Attorney General drops R. Kelly charged with sexual assault
CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago district attorney said Monday she has dropped sexual assault charges against singer R Kelly. After federal convictions in two courts supposedly ensure that the disgraced R&B star will be locked up for decades.
Cook State’s attorney general, Kim Foxx, announced the decision a day before a hearing regarding state charges accusing him of sexually assaulting four people, three of whom were minors. She said she would ask the judge to dismiss the indictments Tuesday.
Fox, who in 2019 appealed to women and girls to come forward so she could pursue charges against Kelly, acknowledged that the decision “may be disappointing” to his accusers.
“Mr. Kelly is probably looking at the possibility of never getting out of jail again for the crimes he committed,” the attorney general said, referring to his federal conviction. “While today’s cases are no longer being pursued, we believe justice has been done.”
Since Kelly was indicted in Cook County in 2019, Federal juries in Chicago and New York convicted him of a range of crimes, including child pornography, solicitation, extortion, and sex trafficking related to allegations that he sacrificed women and girls.
Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, is serving a 30-year prison sentence in the New York case Sentencing is awaiting on February 23 in Chicago Federal Court. He appeals to those convictions. Based on the New York ruling alone, the 56-year-old will not be eligible for release until he is about 80 years old.
Fox said she contacted Kelly’s attorney two weeks ago to suggest the charges might be dropped. I also spoke to the women whose allegations were at the heart of the case.
Fox expressed praise for the “courage it took for them to come forward”.
Kelly’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjian, said she was “delighted” with the prosecution’s decision to drop the charges.
“He has one life to give. So I don’t know how many sentences there are that please people,” Punjian said.
Lanita Carter, who said she was sexually assaulted by R. Kelly said in February 2003 that she was “very disappointed” with the news.
“I spent nearly 20 years hoping my abuser would be brought to justice for what he did to me. With today’s announcement, all hope of justice for my case is lost,” Carter said, adding that she trusted Foxx and her office with her story and spent four years amassing herself to unsuccessfully confront Kelly.
“I was denied justice,” she said.
Prosecutors sometimes choose to move forward with more trials out of fear that convictions elsewhere may be reversed on appeal. They see the opportunity for additional convictions as insurance.
“We did not do a financial cost-benefit analysis,” Fox said, adding, however, that the resources being spent on a trial now could instead be used “advocating for other survivors of sexual assault.”
Another sexual misconduct case is pending in Hennepin County, Minnesota, The Grammy winner faces a solicitation fee. This case, too, has been put on hold until the completion of the federal cases. Minnesota prosecutors have not said if they still intend to prosecute Kelly.
Known for his smash hit “I Believe I Can Fly” and sex-infused songs like “Bump n’ Grind,” Kelly sold millions of albums even after allegations of his abuse of young girls began circulating publicly in the ’90s. He beat child pornography charges in Chicago in 2008, when a jury acquitted him.
The widespread outrage over Kelly’s sexual misconduct did not come to light until #MeToo and the release of the Lifetime documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly” in early 2019.
Foxx announced the Cook County charges months before federal cases in New York and Chicago. Foxx’s office alleged that it repeatedly sought out girls for sex, including one he met at her 16th birthday party and another who met Kelly during his trial in 2008.
New York federal prosecutors told jurors at his trial in 2021 that Kelly used his entourage of managers and assistants to interview girls and keep them obedient, a process prosecutors said amounted to a criminal act.
Last year, prosecutors in the Kelly federal trial in Chicago portrayed him as a master manipulator who used his fame and fortune to lure famous fans of the stars, some of them minors, into sexual assault and then dump them. Four accused testified.
While prosecutors in that case won convictions on six of the 13 counts against him in that case, the government lost the apparent count — that Kelly and his then-manager successfully committed fraud at his 2008 child pornography trial.
Associated Press reporter Ed White in Detroit contributed to this story.
Follow Michael Tarm on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mtarm And find out more about AP coverage of the R. Kelly trials at https://apnews.com/hub/r-kelly