R. Kelly has been charged with criminal sexual abuse in Cook County, court records show Friday.
The 52-year-old R&B star faces 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, with nine of the 10 charges specifying victims were between 13 and 16 years old.
The tenth charge, according to online statutes, is aggravated criminal sexual abuse during the commission of another felony.
Kelly is scheduled to appear in court March 8 in the case and an arrest warrant has been issued, records show.
In Illinois, aggravated criminal sexual abuse is a class 2 felony. It can carry a sentence of between 3 and 7 years in prison. A person convicted of this offense has to register as a sex offender.
The news comes just hours before attorney Michael Avenatti scheduled a 4 p.m. press conference in Chicago to discuss “details of the investigation.”
“After 25 years of serial sexual abuse and assault of underage girls, the day of reckoning for R Kelly has arrived,” Avenatti tweeted.
Avenatti, who previously reported he gave video evidence to Cook County prosecutors, said he planned to discuss a “major development in the case” and told The Associated Press he has evidence R. Kelly and his “enablers” paid witnesses and others to “rig” the outcome of the R&B star’s 2008 trial, when he was acquitted on child pornography charges.
Kelly has denied allegations of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for years. His attorney didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
Avenatti said last week that his office has been “quietly”
investigating allegations made against embattled singer R. Kelly and confirmed his office gave a VHS videotape to Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx that allegedly features R. Kelly.
He noted the video “has never previously been publicly disclosed or, until recently, provided to law enforcement.” The roughly 45-minutes of footage purportedly shows Kelly “engaging in multiple sexual assaults of a girl underage,” Avenatti said.
“This conclusive video evidence is not the same evidence previously seen and used in connection with the prior criminal matter in which Mr. Kelly was charged nor does it depict the same instances of sexual assault,” Avenatti wrote in a statement. “Further, the time frame of the sexual assaults depicted in the video is within the Illinois statute of limitations.”
Foxx’s office said at the time it “cannot confirm or deny an investigation,” though Foxx had previously called on potential victims to come forward. Her office could not immediately be reached for comment on the charges Friday.
Kelly’s attorney, Steve Greenberg, said he was not aware of the video before Avenatti’s announcement last week.
“I have not been contacted by anyone connected with law enforcement, nor has R Kelly,” Greenberg wrote in a statement. “Mr. Kelly denies that he has engaged in any illegal conduct, of any kind whatsoever. He would like to be able to continue to write and sing and produce and perform.”
CNN reported it has seen the videotape and reporter Jim DeRogatis, who has been covering Kelly for more than a decade, wrote in the New Yorker that a senior law enforcement official indicated the footage could lead to an indictment in the case.
“If the video were what it is claimed to be, by sharing it with CNN Mr. Avenatti would be committing a felony, as would the reporter who viewed it,” Greenberg’s statement read. “I doubt if either would put themselves in that position. That combined with the other facts that I know lead me to question the reports.”
Attorney Gloria Allred also told the AP one week ago she had contacted law enforcement about concerns one of her clients may be the person in the VHS tape.
Kelly has been under fire since the airing of the Lifetime docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly.” NBC 5 Investigates also recently obtained police documents detailing allegations from a woman who said she was abused by Kelly as a teenager. He has denied such claims.
On Thursday, two women also alleged Kelly picked them out of a crowd at a Baltimore after-party in the mid-1990s when they were underage and had sex with one of the teens although she was under the influence of marijuana and alcohol and could not consent.
Greenberg, however, said the women “showed a picture of them with someone who was not R. Kelly.”
Kelly announced earlier this week he was leaving his Near West Side Chicago studio.