R. Kelly pleads not guilty, denied bail in NYC sex crime case

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Friday, August 2, 2019
R. Kelly pleads not guilty, denied bail in NYC sex crime case
Tim Fleischer reports on singer R. Kelly's sex crime case.

NEW YORK -- With his live-in girlfriends and nearly two dozen supporters looking on during a court appearance in Brooklyn, R. Kelly entered a plea of not guilty to charges he sexually exploited young women and girls who attended his concerts.

Magistrate Judge Steven L. Tiscione denied Kelly bail.

Kelly appeared unshaven with a thick beard. At one point he stood and grimaced, touching his back. He spoke only when answering the judge's questions.

Before the hearing, the 52-year-old singer's attorney filed paperwork early Friday with the court complaining that since authorities flew his client from Chicago to New York he hasn't been allowed to see him.

He added that R. Kelly, despite his most famous song, is actually afraid of flying.

Regarding detention, federal prosecutor Elizabeth Geddes argued Kelly is a flight risk, a danger to the community, and could attempt to obstruct justice once again due to his wide ranging, lengthy criminal history. The government confirmed to the judge there is no overlap with Kelly's other federal case in Illinois, but there "may be some overlap" with his criminal case in Chicago, and at least 4 additional victims.

The government also argued Kelly has committed obstruction of justice over dozens of decades, involving women and children. That drew visible reaction from Kelly's supporters in the courtroom.

Kelly's attorney, Anton, argued that outside of the unproven accusations in New York and Illinois, the court does not have any reason to believe Kelly is a danger. He told the judge there is "not one piece of evidence" to support the government's allegations.

The victims are identified only as "Jane Does." According to court papers, they include one he met at one of his concerts and another at a radio station where she was an intern.

The papers allege that Kelly arranged for some of the victims to meet him on the road for illegal sex. He had one victim travel in 2017 to a show on Long Island, where he had unprotected sex with her without telling her "he had contracted an infectious venereal disease" in violation of New York law, they say.

The allegations stemmed from a bombshell documentary on Lifetime earlier this year.

In denying bail, the judge said "Based on what I can ascertain" from the indictments, these allegations range from 1997-2018, are not minor charges, Kelly has a history of similar allegations dating back more than a decade, access to financial means, and a history of frequent international travel.

He said there was a significant incentive for Kelly to flee and he "definitely cannot be relied upon to adhere to" bail conditions.

Defense papers label his accusers "disgruntled groupies." The alleged victims "sought out Robert's attention, even fought each other for it, voluntarily contacted him, came to his shows, pined to be with him," the defense papers say. "Robert would spend his time and even become friends with and care about these groupies and fans who were dying to be with him."

The case in New York is separate from the Chicago child porn case for which he already pleaded not guilty.

(Some information from the Associated Press)