Singer R. Kelly, jailed in New York last month after he was charged in Brooklyn and Chicago with numerous sexual misconduct felonies, was charged on Monday in Minnesota with soliciting sex from a minor at a Minneapolis hotel room 18 years ago.
The 52-year-old R&B vocalist known for such hits as "I Believe I Can Fly," is accused in the Minnesota case of paying a 17-year-old girl $200 to take off her clothes and dance for him, and then engaging in sexual contact.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said, however, that the sexual activity did not include intercourse. He said the girl told an older brother about the incident at the time, but “did not come forward until all these other allegations about R. Kelly” surfaced. She called a law enforcement hotline with her account in January.
Kelly’s lawyer, Steve Greenberg, posted a message on Twitter saying, “Give me a break. This is beyond absurd.”
The Grammy-winning performer, whose full legal name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, already is accused of preying on numerous juveniles in federal cases in New York City and Chicago and in a state case brought in Cook County, Illinois.
An indictment filed in federal court in Brooklyn last month accuses Kelly of running a criminal enterprise in which he recruited women and underage girls to have sex with him, isolating them, and often controlling what they ate and when they went to the bathroom.
Kelly was charged separately in Chicago with having sexual contact with five minors and recording sexually explicit videos of some of them. He is also accused of using threats and bribes to silence his alleged victims.
In February, prosecutors in Cook County, Illinois, charged Kelly with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse of an underage victim.
The criminal cases were brought after seven women, including Kelly’s wife, appeared on a Lifetime television documentary in January accusing him of emotional and sexual abuse.
The performer, who has pleaded not guilty in the New York and Chicago cases, has denied abuse allegations for decades. In 2008, he was tried on child pornography charges and acquitted.
The Hennepin County prosecutor said the singer remained in custody in New York, “so exactly the time he will come to Minnesota is not clear.”
The Minnesota complaint charges Kelly with two felony counts - for a jury to consider - engaging in prostitution with a minor and hiring a minor for purposes of sexual contact. Each count carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.
At a news conference to announce the case, Freeman said the alleged incident occurred in July 2001 after the accuser approached Kelly seeking an autograph during a promotional event at the City Center in downtown Minneapolis.
According to Freeman, Kelly gave the teenager his autograph and his phone number and told her to call him. When she did, she was directed to go to a hotel where a member of Kelly’s staff ushered the girl to his suite where he offered her $200.