“R. Kelly” Charged with Racketeering, Including Predicate Acts of Coercing and Transporting Minor Girls to Engage in Sex
A five-count superseding indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging R&B singer Robert Sylvester Kelly, also known as “R. Kelly,” with racketeering predicated on criminal conduct including sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping, forced labor and Mann Act violations involving the coercion and transportation of women and girls in interstate commerce to engage in illegal sexual activity. Kelly is also charged with four counts of violating the Mann Act related to his interstate transportation of a victim to New York to engage in illegal sexual activity, and his exposure of her to an infectious venereal disease without her knowledge. Also today, Kelly was charged in a separate federal indictment unsealed in the Northern District of Illinois with federal child pornography and obstruction charges.
Kelly will appear this afternoon for a removal hearing at the federal courthouse in Chicago, Illinois. On a later date, Kelly will be arraigned on this superseding indictment in Brooklyn. This case is assigned to the United States District Judge Ann M. Donnelly.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Angel M. Melendez, Special Agent-in-Charge, United States Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, New York Field Office (HSI), and James P. O’Neill, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the charges.
“As alleged, R. Kelly, together with employees and members of his entourage, engaged in a racketeering enterprise that preyed upon women and girls who attended his concerts so that the victims could be available to engage in illegal sexual activity with him at a moment’s notice,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “Today that comes to an end. This indictment makes clear that fame and power will not shield anyone from prosecution, particularly predators who victimize vulnerable members of our communities for their own sexual gratification.”
“R. Kelly’s Enterprise was not only engaged in music; as alleged, for two decades the enterprise at the direction of R. Kelly preyed upon young women and teenagers whose dreams of meeting a superstar, soon turned into a nightmare of rape, child pornography and forced labor. The musician turned predator allegedly used his stardom to coax some victims into nefarious sex acts while certain members of his enterprise calculatingly facilitated the aberrant conduct. Today’s indictment charging racketeering is a clear indication of the extent of his criminal activity, which involves coercion and kidnapping. This investigation was built with the foresight of special agents and detectives assigned to the joint HSI and NYPD Public Safety Task Force, along with prosecutors of the Eastern District of New York. R. Kelly believed he could fly, but it will be justice to see his oppressive wings clipped,” stated HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Melendez.
“The NYPD is committed to ensuring that child predators are taken off our streets and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I thank our skilled NYPD detectives and our law enforcement partners for their unified work to provide justice for the victims of these despicable crimes. Those who engage in these reprehensible offenses against our most vulnerable will be pursued relentlessly, and held accountable for the pain and suffering they cause,” stated NYPD Commissioner O’Neill.
According to the superseding indictment and other court filings, Kelly and individuals who served as his managers, bodyguards, drivers, personal assistants and runners, as well as members of his entourage, comprised a racketeering enterprise (the Enterprise) that operated for over two decades in New York, Illinois, Connecticut, California and elsewhere. Kelly, as leader of the Enterprise, used his fame to recruit women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with him and others. The superseding indictment alleges that Kelly identified these girls and women and then directed members of the Enterprise to escort them backstage or to events following his musical performances. Kelly also exchanged contact information with girls and women so that he and other members of the Enterprise could arrange travel and lodging for them to visit Kelly and engage in the charged illegal sexual conduct.
Kelly issued rules that many of his sexual partners were required to follow, including that the women and girls were to call him “Daddy”; they were not permitted to leave their rooms to eat or visit the bathroom without receiving his permission; they were required to wear baggy clothing when not accompanying Kelly to an event; and they were directed to keep their heads down and not look at other men. Kelly also isolated the women and girls from their friends and family, and made them dependent on him for their financial well-being.
Earlier today, federal agents executed a search warrant at Kelly’s residence.
The charges in the superseding indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
If convicted, Kelly faces a sentence of up to 20 years’ imprisonment for the Racketeering and two Mann Act Coercion and Enticement counts respectively, and up to 10 years’ imprisonment for each of the Mann Act Transportation counts.
If you believe you are a victim of criminal activity perpetrated by Robert Kelly, please contact HSI at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE (1-866-347-2423) or by logging on to https://www.ice.gov/webform/hsi-tip-form. This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All information will be kept strictly confidential.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Rights Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Elizabeth Geddes, Nadia Shihata and Maria Cruz Melendez are in charge of the prosecution.
Robert Sylvester Kelly (also known as “R. Kelly”)
Residence: Chicago, Illinois
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-CR-286 (AMD)
United States Attorney’s Office