‘I’m fighting for my f**king life!’: An indignant R. Kelly sensationally explodes in anger during his first interview since being charged with sexually abusing underage teens and protests his innocence
- R. Kelly gives first interview since he was indicted on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against four women on February 22
- ‘Quit playing, I didn’t do this stuff,’ the R&B singer told Gayle King of CBS News
- Kelly broke down in tears as he pleaded: ‘This is not me. I’m fighting for my life.’
- The singer, who has pleaded not guilty to all counts, could face 70 years in prison if convicted on all counts
- Three of the four women who have come forward to accuse Kelly were underage at the time the alleged crimes were committed
- When asked on Tuesday if he ever held a girl against her will, R. Kelly replied: ‘I don’t need to. Why would I? How stupid would I be to do that?’
- Kelly says that the latest charges are an excuse by the government to ‘double jeopardy me’ after he was acquitted in an earlier case
- In 2008, R. Kelly was acquitted on charges of child pornography after a jury said it could not determine the age of a female who appeared in a sex tape with him
R. Kelly broke down in tears and angrily denied accusations that he raped underage girls in his first interview since his indictment last month.
‘Quit playing, I didn’t do this stuff,’ the pop singer tearfully told Gayle King of CBS News on Tuesday.
‘This is not me. I’m fighting for my f*****g life.’
Kelly was indicted on February 22 in a Chicago courtroom on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against four victims, three of whom were underage at the time the alleged crimes were committed.
If convicted, he could face a maximum prison sentence of 70 years – 7 years for each count.
The singer has pleaded not guilty to all counts.
R. Kelly (seen right with Gayle King of CBS News) broke down in tears and angrily denied accusations that he raped underage girls in his first interview since his indictment last month
The singer is seen above gesturing with his hands as Gayle King of CBS News looks on
‘Quit playing, I didn’t do this stuff,’ the pop singer tearfully told Gayle King of CBS News on Tuesday
Kelly was indicted on February 22 in a Chicago courtroom on 10 of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against four victims, three of whom were underage at the time the alleged crimes were committed. He is seen right with CBS News’ Gayle King
Kelly told CBS News that there was no merit to the allegations he forced underage girls to have sex with him.
‘Not true, whether they’re old rumors, new rumors, future rumors…Not true,’ Kelly said.
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Prosecutors say Kelly’s alleged victims include a teenager he met when she sought an autograph during his 2008 trial on child pornography charges, another he met at her 16th-birthday party and his hairdresser, who was then 24.
The singer was acquitted of the 2008 pornography charges.
A fourth charge is based on a videotape that purportedly shows Kelly and a 14-year-old girl engaged in sexual acts, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors say Kelly’s alleged victims include a teenager he met when she sought an autograph during his 2008 trial on child pornography charges, another he met at her 16th-birthday party and his hairdresser, who was then 24. Kelly’s Feb. 22 mug shot is seen above
Singer R. Kelly leaves Cook County Jail with his defense attorney, Steve Greenberg, on February 25. He spent three days in jail before he was released on $100,000
Prosecutors in the 2008 case also introduced a video as evidence against Kelly, but the victim did not testify.
The new charges emerged in a different environment, after the #MeToo movement had made accusers more willing to come forward and law enforcement more likely to believe them.
In his interview with CBS News, Kelly cited his acquittal to back up his claim that he is innocent.
‘I beat my case,’ he said on Tuesday. ‘We can’t double-jeopardy me like that.
‘You can’t. It’s not fair. It’s not fair to nobody. When you beat your case, you beat your case.’
In the American legal system, the government is not allowed to try a defendant on the same or similar charges after he or she was already acquitted, a procedural defense known as ‘double jeopardy.’
R. Kelly says that the latest charges are an attempt by prosecutors to relitigate the cases he already beat.
Kelly turned himself in to Chicago police on February 22. He is seen above as he was led inside the station, handcuffed by police, and led away for booking
‘I had two cases back then that I said in the beginning of the interview that I would not talk about because of my ongoing case now,’ he said on Tuesday.
‘But…people are going back to my past and they’re trying to add all of this stuff now to that, to make all of this stuff that’s going on now feel real to people.’
When asked if he ever held a girl against her will, R. Kelly replied: ‘I don’t need to. Why would I?
‘How stupid would it be for R. Kelly, with all I’ve been through in my way, way past, to hold somebody, let alone 4, 5, 6, 50, you said – how stupid would I be to do that?’
The singer continued: ‘That’s stupid! Use your common sense.
‘Forget the blogs, forget how you feel about me.
‘Hate me if you want to, love me if you want. But just use your common sense.
‘How stupid would it be for me, with my crazy past and what I’ve been through – oh right now I just think I need to be a monster and hold girls against their will, chain them up in my basement, and don’t let them eat, don’t let them out, unless they need some shoes down the street from their uncle!’
Singer R. Kelly’s attorney Steve Greenberg (seen after his client’s arrest in Chicago on February 22) denied the charges against his client, telling reporters that ‘all the women are lying’
Attorney Michael Avenatti, who said he represents two of the alleged victims in the indictment and a third accuser, told reporters last week that he had turned over a second videotape to prosecutors.
The 55-minute video dated from around 2000 also showed a 14-year-old girl, though Avenatti did not specify whether it was the same girl as in the first video.
Avenatti said he obtained both tapes from two ‘whistleblowers’ he also represents, but none of his clients appear in either video.
The charges against the performer came just weeks after the Lifetime television network aired the six-hour documentary series Surviving R. Kelly, in which multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct and abuse.
The Lifetime series follows the BBC’s R Kelly: Sex, Girls & Videotapes, which was released last year.
It alleged that the singer was holding women against their will and running a ‘sex cult.’
Los Angeles-based lawyer Gloria Allred said she represents six women who have come forward to accuse Kelly of sexual abuse, including some who were featured in the documentary.
But she said none of her clients are included in the Cook County case.
In 2008, R. Kelly, then 41, was acquitted of child pornography charges. He is seen above waving to supporters as he leaves the Cook County Criminal Courts Building in Chicago on June 13, 2008
Kelly was indicted in a Florida courtroom in 2002 for filming sex acts between him and a 14-year-old girl, but was ultimately acquitted
At least four law enforcement agencies outside Cook County have opened investigations into her clients’ complaints, Allred told a news conference on Monday, including the New York Police Department and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn.
The allegations extend beyond Illinois. A lawyer representing an Atlanta-area couple who appeared in the Lifetime documentary said Georgia prosecutors have reached out to him.
Attorney Gerald Griggs represents Timothy and Jonjelyn Savage, who have said repeatedly that Kelly has brainwashed their daughter and kept her from contacting them.
Despite the accusations that span decades, the star singer, songwriter and producer who rose from poverty on Chicago’s South Side has retained a sizable following.
Kelly broke into the R&B scene in 1993 with his first solo album, 12 Play, which yielded such popular sex-themed songs as Bump N’ Grind and Your Body’s Callin.
Months later, the then-27-year-old faced allegations he married 15-year-old Aaliyah – a multi-platinum R&B vocalist who later died in a plane crash in the Bahamas.
Kelly served as the lead songwriter and producer for Aaliyah’s 1994 debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number.
Kelly and Aaliyah never confirmed the marriage, although Vibe magazine published a copy of the purported marriage license.
Court documents later obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times showed Aaliyah admitted lying about her age on the license.
In May 1997, she filed suit in Cook County, Illinois, to expunge all records of the marriage, court documents showed.
A judge later agreed to seal the marriage records.
Kelly won three Grammys that year for I Believe I Can Fly, a song that would be sung at churches and graduations across the U.S.
He has not only written numerous hits for himself but for other artists including Celine Dion, Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga.
His collaborators have included Jay-Z and Usher.
Still, accusations of inappropriate sexual misconduct followed Kelly for much of his career.
In February 2002, a 27-minute video surfaced that showed a man purported to be Kelly engaged in sex acts involving an underage girl.
In 1994, R. Kelly, then 27, married singer and actress Aaliyah (seen right in 2001), who later admitted she lied about her age. Aaliyah was 15 years old at the time of the marriage, which was later annulled. In 2001, Aaliyah was killed in a plane crash in the Bahamas
In the Lifetime documentary, Kelly’s former tour manager and personal assistant, Demetrius Smith, explained initially the singer denied having any sort of romantic relationship with Aaliyah
The singer was later indicted on child pornography charges and it appeared that Kelly’s career was in jeopardy.
Almost a year later, Kelly was arrested in Florida after authorities found digital images of the singer allegedly involved in sex acts with an underage girl, but those charges were dropped over a dispute on the search warrant.
Both Kelly and the girl denied they were the ones in the video, even though the quality of the video was good and multiple witnesses at trial testified it was clearly them.
In Chicago, the jury of nine men and three women deliberated for about seven hours before acquitting the singer in 2008 on charges of videotaping himself having sex with a girl who prosecutors allege was as young as 13.
After the acquittal, Kelly vowed not to abandon the explicit music that helped make him famous.
‘Absolutely not, and I tell people all the time, man,’ Kelly told The Associated Press in 2012.
‘Make no mistake about it, R. Kelly is not going anywhere. It’s just that R. Kelly has such a unique talent, and I’ve been blessed to be able to do all type of genres of music … I’m exploring my gift right now.’
Now 52, his hits have dwindled, but he was still able to sell out arenas across the nation until the pressure of the #MeToo movement damaged his reputation and hurt concert bookings.
He settled at least three lawsuits accusing him of having sex with underage girls filed between 1997 and 2002.
One accuser said Kelly forced her to have an abortion.
The accusers, all black women, said years after the trial that Kelly kept them locked up and used them for sex at his will.
The Lifetime series interviewed women who said they were physically assaulted, had to ask for permission to eat or use the restroom and were taped engaging in sex acts.
Some women said they had to escape or be rescued.
Critics suggested that Kelly’s alleged abuse continued and was largely ignored because the victims were black women.
Jim DeRogatis, a longtime music critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, played a key role in drawing the attention of law enforcement to the allegations.
He received the recording of the sex tape in the mail in 2002, then turned it over to prosecutors. Kelly was charged months later.
In 2017, he wrote a story for BuzzFeed about the allegations Kelly was holding women against their will in Georgia.
Kim Mehlman-Orozco, author of Hidden in Plain Sight: America’s Slaves of the New Millennium and an expert witness in sex trafficking cases, said she was struck by the similarities from the accusations in the Surviving R. Kelly documentary and the stories told by convicted sex traffickers.
‘These sex traffickers didn’t allow women to talk to each other, and the traffickers compared themselves to God,’ Mehlman-Orozco said.
Kelly’s Chicago attorney, Steve Greenberg, said in a phone interview that the allegations in the Lifetime documentary were false.
Winning a conviction under current sex-trafficking laws will be a challenge because Kelly’s defense will argue that the women entered into his home willingly and Kelly did not benefit financially from their exploitation, Mehlman-Orozco said.
Prosecutors could seek a conviction on lesser charges such as endangerment of a minor or money laundering – charges some alleged sex traffickers have faced.
‘But witnesses will have to come forth,’ Mehlman-Orozco said.
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