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Press Release

Recording Artist R. Kelly Arrested on Federal Child Pornography and Obstruction Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Illinois

CHICAGO — Chicago recording artist ROBERT SYLVESTER KELLY, also known as “R. Kelly,” has been arrested on federal child pornography and obstruction charges.

A 13-count indictment returned Thursday in U.S. District Court in Chicago charges Kelly with producing and receiving child pornography, and enticing minors to engage in criminal sexual activity.  The charges accuse Kelly of engaging in sex acts with five minors and recording some of the abuse on multiple videos.  The indictment also charges Kelly with conspiring to intimidate victims and conceal evidence in an effort to obstruct law enforcement, including an investigation in the 2000s that resulted in his trial in 2008 in Cook County on state child pornography charges. 

Kelly, 52, of Chicago, was arrested Thursday night.  He is scheduled to appear for an arraignment and detention hearing on Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. before U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber in Chicago.  Kelly is charged with one count of conspiracy to receive child pornography, two counts of receiving child pornography, four counts of producing child pornography, five counts of enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity, and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice.

The indictment also charges two former employees of Kelly’s music business: DERREL MCDAVID, 58, of Chicago (one count of conspiracy to receive child pornography, two counts of receiving child pornography, one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice), and MILTON BROWN, also known as “June Brown,” 53, of Chicago (one count of conspiracy to receive child pornography).  McDavid is scheduled to make an initial court appearance today at 11:00 a.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Young B. Kim in Chicago, while Brown is scheduled to make an initial appearance before Judge Kim on July 19, 2019, at 11:00 a.m. 

The indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; James M. Gibbons, Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations in Chicago; and Tara Sullivan, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago.  Substantial assistance was provided by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Chicago Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Angel Krull, Abigail L. Peluso and Jeannice W. Appenteng represent the government.

“This indictment demonstrates our office’s commitment to holding individuals such as Kelly accountable for criminal sexual abuse of minors, protecting the victims of such crimes, and punishing those who obstruct law enforcement investigations,” said U.S. Attorney Lausch.  “I thank the courageous individuals who provided law enforcement with important information related to these allegations, and I encourage others with helpful information to do the same.  Together with our law enforcement partners and with the help of victims and other witnesses, we will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children.”

“Today’s arrest serves as a reminder of HSI’s commitment to protecting the most vulnerable members of our society – our children,” said HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Gibbons.  “We will continue to work in partnership with fellow law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to bring those engaged in child exploitation to justice.”

A separate federal indictment was unsealed today in the Eastern District of New York charging Kelly with racketeering for allegedly operating a criminal enterprise that promoted Kelly’s music and recruited women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity.  Kelly will appear for a removal hearing on the New York charges today at 1:45 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheila Finnegan in Chicago.

Kelly is an award-winning recording artist and record producer who has operated various music businesses in Chicago.  According to the indictment in the Northern District of Illinois, Kelly met the five victims in the late 1990s.  Kelly engaged in sex acts with the victims while they were all under the age of 18, and he created numerous explicit videos with four of them, the indictment states.  The charges allege that Kelly and McDavid in 2001 began paying an acquaintance hundreds of thousands of dollars to collect the videos for the purpose of concealing and covering up their existence.  When the acquaintance later planned to hold a news conference to publicly announce that he recovered the videos, Kelly, McDavid and others paid him approximately $170,000 in exchange for agreeing to cancel the event, the indictment states.

Kelly and McDavid also agreed to pay one of the minors and another individual for their efforts to return the videos, but only after they took polygraph examinations to confirm they returned all copies in their possession, the charges allege.

The indictment seeks forfeiture of a personal money judgment of approximately $1.55 million.

The public is reminded that charges contain only accusations and are not evidence of guilt.  The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Producing child pornography carries a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prison and a maximum of 20 years.  Receiving child pornography and conspiring to receive child pornography are each punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum of 20 years.  The maximum sentence for enticement of a minor is ten years.  Conspiracy to obstruct justice is punishable by up to five years.  If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

If you believe you are a victim of sexual exploitation by Robert Sylvester Kelly, you are encouraged to contact HSI’s confidential tip line by calling 1-866-DHS-2-ICE (1-866-347-2423) or by logging on to  The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Updated July 12, 2019

Violent Crime