R. Kelly pleads not guilty to federal sex crimes; judge denies bail

Credit: E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool

Credit: E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool

A judge in Chicago ordered singer R. Kelly to remain behind bars as he faces allegations that he recorded himself sexually abusing several girls and then spent decades paying off or threatening people to keep the videos from law enforcement officers.

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Kelly, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, pleaded not guilty Tuesday after he was arrested and charged in a 13-count federal indictment out of Illinois. The 52-year-old also faces separate federal racketeering and sex-related charges in New York and state sex crime charges in Chicago.

Update 3:15 p.m. EDT July 16: U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber ordered Kelly be held without bail Tuesday as he awaits trial on sex-related federal charges in Illinois and New York, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Kelly also pleaded not guilty to 13 federal charges unveiled Friday by prosecutors in the Northern District of Illinois, the newspaper reported.

Authorities on Thursday arrested Kelly in Chicago after a grand jury indicted him on several charges related to child exploitation and obstruction of justice. Prosecutors allege Kelly sexually abused several underage girls and then used violence or the threat of violence and paid them and witnesses off to secure their silence.

Kelly's attorney, Steve Greenberg, argued in court that Kelly posed no flight risk and no threat to the community, arguments Leinenweber rejected, according to WGN.

He is expected to be arraigned in the coming months in New York, where he’s been accused of sexually exploiting children, kidnapping and forced labor as part of a racketeering scheme.

Original report: Authorities on Thursday arrested Kelly, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, to face a 13-count federal indictment in Chicago. Federal prosecutors in New York also unveiled charges against the 52-year-old last week, in which he was accused of heading a racketeering organization that "used his fame to recruit women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with him and others," according to court records.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber will decide Tuesday whether to release Kelly on bond to travel to New York or to keep him in custody, The Chicago Tribune reported.

In a motion filed Friday in Illinois, prosecutors said Kelly could be sentenced to as many as 195 years in prison if he's convicted of the federal charges leveled against him in Chicago. They asked that he be held without bond pending trial, saying he's a flight risk and that he poses a danger to the community.

Prosecutors said Kelly for years sexually abused at least five girls as young as 13 years old and that he threatened, intimidated and abused the victims and witnesses to keep them from revealing his crimes.

"(Kelly's) psychological abuse and control of the young girls, who are now adults, is real and ongoing," prosecutors said in the motion filed Friday. "(Kelly) and his co-conspirators used (his) fame, power and financial resources to go to great lengths to obstruct justice, cover-up evidence and tamper with witnesses."

Kelly's attorneys have said they will ask a judge to allow his release and framed the new allegations as an "unfair piling on" of charges and an "abuse" of the anti-racketeering law, the Tribune reported.

Kelly is scheduled to appear in court at 1 p.m. local time Tuesday.

In addition to the federal charges, Kelly also faces a slew of sexual assault and abuse charges in Cook County, Illinois, where he's been accused of abusing several women, some of whom authorities said were girls at the time the abuse began.

Kelly, who is one of the top-selling recording artists of all time, has been accused of sexual misconduct several times over the years, allegations he’s consistently denied.

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