What to Know
- R. Kelly arrived at NJ's Teterboro Airport Thursday ahead of scheduled court appearance Friday in Brooklyn on federal sex charges
- The singer was charged in separate federal indictments in Chicago and New York earlier this month with a slate of sex crimes vs minors
- R. Kelly has pleaded not guilty in a New York City courthouse on federal charges he sexually abused women and girls
The lawyers for R. Kelly blasted the accusers in his child sex trafficking case as "disgruntled groupies" after their client was denied bail Friday afternoon.
The singer was ordered held without bail after pleading not guilty to federal sex trafficking charges in a New York City courtroom. His legal team tried to portray the alleged victims as women who followed "their musical hero" around as he toured, and therefore aren't victims of any crime.
"That is the definition of a groupie. Whether they’re disgruntled or showing groupie remorse," said lawyer Doug Anton after Friday's hearing.
Gloria Allred, who is representing some of the alleged Kelly victims, had strong words after hearing the comments made the defense.
"It is time for Mr. Kelly’s defense attorneys to stop traumatizing persons who are alleged to be victims of Mr. Kelly, and start showing them the respect that is long overdue to them," Allred said.
Wearing blue prison garb, Kelly stretched his back and then sat down in Brooklyn federal court, answering a polite, "Yes, sir," to a series of questions from the judge before his attorney entered the plea on his behalf.
U.S. & World
The day's top national and international news.
Prosecutors asked for permanent pretrial detention, saying Kelly is a flight risk and a danger to the community with alleged past attempts to obstruct justice. He faces separate sex-related indictments in New York and Chicago, and prosecutors say the two cases involved a total of 13 victims -- so far.
Kelly's attorneys argued he has no passport and would honor court appearances, but the judge still remanded him. They said they hope a Chicago court will reconsider.
Lawyers for Kelly had requested the New York judge to grant him bail so he can better fight the charges as they also seek his release in Chicago.
They are also asking for the judge to make the victims' names public so they can prepare a proper defense. Anton argued in his letter to the judge that some of the victims who were "under 18" at the time of Kelly's alleged crimes in the states of Illinois, Connecticut and California were 16 or 17 and their alleged relationship to the singer "may not give rise to criminal conduct" because the age of consent in Connecticut is 16.
The alleged victims "sought out Robert's attention, even fought each other for it, voluntarily contacted him, came to his shows, pined to be with him," the defense papers say. "Robert would spend his time and even become friends with and care about these groupies and fans who were dying to be with him."
Prior to Friday's arraignment, the singer's live-in "girlfriends" — Jocelyn Savage and Azriel Clary — as well as a group of R. Kelly supporters who had t-shirts and gear emblazoned with his face and "FREE R. KELLY" made their way to the courthouse.
Kelly won’t be in New York for long, as his lawyers say he will be back in a Chicago jail cell this weekend where he is expected to stand trial first.
The singer arrived at New Jersey's Teterboro Airport Thursday afternoon. Wearing a tan prison shirt and orange shoes, the R&B star had his hands cuffed in front of him and shuffled along the tarmac as an officer escorted him by the arm to a waiting pickup truck.
Chopper 4 followed the caravan, sirens blaring, as it got onto the highway en route to Kelly's next holding facility, the Metropolitan Detention Center.
Friday's hearings follow Kelly's arrest last month in a separate Chicago case accusing him of engaging in child pornography.
Kelly, 52, is charged in New York with exploiting five victims, identified only as "Jane Does." According to court papers, they include one he met at one of his concerts and another at a radio station where she was an intern.
The papers allege that Kelly arranged for some of the victims to meet him on the road for illegal sex. He had one victim travel in 2017 to a show on Long Island, where he had unprotected sex with her without telling her "he had contracted an infectious venereal disease" in violation of New York law, they say.
Kelly had been held without bail in Illinois since his arrest.