R Kelly charged with sexual offences

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-47338368

R Kelly at New York Fashion Week 2016Image copyright
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R Kelly has faced sexual abuse claims for decades

Singer R Kelly has been charged on Friday with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, some involving underage victims, US media report.

The R&B star, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, has faced claims of sexual abuse against women and teenage girls for decades.

He has never been convicted and has previously denied all the allegations.

The 52-year-old is expected in court in Chicago, where he lives, on 8 March, which is International Women’s Day.

Prosecutors allege the abuse of four victims took place between 1998 and 2010 – three of the victims were aged 13 to 16 at the time of their reported assaults.

On Thursday, two new women brought forward fresh allegations of sexual misconduct when they were teenagers in the mid-90s.

A warrant for Kelly’s arrest has been issued, police said Friday, and if convicted the singer faces a maximum of seven years in prison for each count.

Kelly’s lawyer told the Chicago Sun-Times he had not been notified of the charges against his client before the news broke, but said R Kelly denied any wrongdoing.

Last week, lawyer Michael Avenatti said that his office had uncovered previously unreleased footage of Kelly having sex with a young girl, which was then handed to the Cook County State Attorney, whose jurisdiction includes Chicago. It is unclear if the charges are related to this video.

The US broadcaster CNN is reported to have seen the footage, which is 42 minutes long, and described it as “clear and explicit”.

There have been calls in recent months to boycott Kelly’s music – both recordings and performances – with negative messages posted on social media using the hashtag #MuteRKelly.

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People have been calling for a boycott on Kelly’s music with the hashtag #MuteRKelly

Kelly, best known for hit song I Believe I Can Fly, has faced numerous accusations of sexual misconduct, making indecent images of children and other offences.

The singer is the subject of the documentary Surviving R Kelly, which premiered in New York in December and featured women who accuse him of sexual and physical abuse.

In 2017, Kelly denied allegations that he was holding a number of young women captive in a so-called “abusive cult”.

He was arrested in 2002 over footage that showed child sex abuse, including one in which he allegedly urinated over an underage girl. A jury was unable to identify beyond doubt the man in the video, and Kelly was acquitted six years later.