R. Kelly has long been dogged by disturbing allegations of sexual assault and abuse, even as he rose to fame in R&B music and won Grammy awards. The singer came under more attention during the #MeToo era, especially after the 2019 documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly” debuted and featured interviews with several of his victims.
Robert Sylvester Kelly, also known as Kelly, has angrily and repeatedly denied any misconduct. A high-profile federal sex trafficking trial in New York this year, where Kelly was convicted guilty on Monday on all charges, brought the decades-long rumors and allegations to a head. In the case, he entered a not guilty plea. Here is a brief timeline of the significant occasions that lead up to this point.
December 1996: According to a Chicago Sun-Times article from 2000, Tiffany Hawkins, a high school student and aspiring singer, accuses Kelly of having sex with her in 1991 when he was 24 and she was 15, and she is suing him for $10 million.
January 1998: According to the Chicago Sun-Times article, Kelly denies any misconduct and Hawkins’ complaint was resolved for a sum of $250,000. The following month, Kelly’s song “I Believe I Can Fly” wins three Grammy Awards.
Dec. 21, 2000: According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Kelly “used his position of fame and power as a music superstar to meet girls as young as 15 and have sex with them,” citing court documents and interviews.
August 2001: Tracy Sampson, a former teenage intern at Epic Records, sues Kelly on the grounds that their sexual contact was unlawful under Illinois law since he was in a “position of authority” over her. According to Sampson, the lawsuit was resolved for $250,000 in 2002.
Feb. 8, 2002: According to The Chicago Sun-Times, a 29-minute footage purportedly showing Kelly having sex with a child was given to music critic and reporter Jim DeRogatis under cover of anonymity.
According to the publication, Chicago police began looking into claims three years prior involving the musician and the same girl. Kelly gives a performance at the Winter Olympics opening ceremonies in Salt Lake City on the same day as the Sun-Times piece is published.
June 5, 2002: With regard to the sex tape that was provided to the Sun-Times, Kelly is indicted in Chicago on suspicion of child pornography. He later enters a not guilty plea, and after posting $750,000 bond, he is freed.
September 2005: Andrea Kelly accuses her husband of hitting her when she told him she wanted a divorce and asks for an order of protection from him.
May 9, 2008: After being charged with child pornography for more than five years, Kelly’s trial finally started.
June 13, 2008: After less than a full day of deliberation, the jury finds Kelly not guilty on all counts related to the child pornography case.
January 2009: The singer and his former wife, Andrea, confirm they are divorced.
July 17, 2017: DeRogatis, who had persistently covered Kelly for years, writes an exposé for BuzzFeed News titled “Inside the Pied Piper of R&B’s ‘Cult,'” which includes charges made by parents that Kelly brainwashed their daughters and kept them in an abusive “cult.” Following the startling report, activists and social media users launch the #MuteRKelly movement, calling for boycotts of his discography.
April 2018: Kelly’s alleged behavior is the subject of a call for further investigation from the victims’ advocacy group Time’s Up and other members of the larger #MeToo movement.
Kelly’s representatives, responded, saying, “We will vigorously resist this attempted public lynching of a Black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture.”
May 10, 2018: As part of a new hate content and hateful conduct policy, Spotify, the largest streaming music service in America, removes R. Kelly’s music from its playlists. Soon later, it is announced that Apple and Pandora will no longer promote his music. Faith Rodgers, 20, files a complaint against Kelly in the same month, accusing him of sexual battery, verbal and mental abuse, and deliberately giving her herpes.
Jan. 3, 2019: The documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly,” which airs on the cable network Lifetime, delves into the singer’s accusers and documents their conversations. The documentary once again brings the singer’s actions to national attention.
Feb. 22, 2019: 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse are brought against Kelly in Chicago, where she was apprehended. Kelly is eventually released on bond when Kelly’s lawyer makes a not guilty plea.
March 6, 2019: In an interview with CBS News’ Gayle King, Kelly vehemently refutes the allegations of sexual assault leveled against him. “I didn’t do this stuff,” he said. “This is not me. I’m fighting for my f—ing life.”
May 30, 2019: Kelly is charged with 11 new sex-related counts in Chicago.
July 11, 2019: On 13 counts, including child pornography, enticing a minor, and obstructing the course of justice, a federal grand jury in Chicago gets charged Kelly. One count of racketeering and eight counts of breaking the Mann Act, which forbids moving anybody across state borders for prostitution, are laid out in a separate indictment announced by federal prosecutors in New York the same day. While taking his dog for a walk in Chicago, he is detained.
Aug. 5, 2019: He faces prostitution and solicitation charges in Minnesota in connection with allegations that, in 2001, he invited a teenage girl to a hotel room and paid her $200 to dance with him while they were both naked. In response to a request for comment, Kelly’s lawyer Steve Greenberg called the charges “an abuse of process, prosecutorial discretion and a perversion of the statute of limitations.”
October 2019: Kelly is denied bail in the New York sex abuse case.
March 5, 2020: An amended federal indictment against the singer in Chicago includes child pornography charges as well as accusations involving a new accuser. The singer enters a not guilty plea.
August 2021: Following Covid-related delays, Kelly’s sex trafficking trial starts. The singer is depicted by the prosecution as a prolific sexual predator, while the singer’s defense team calls his accusers “groupies” who tried to cash in on his popularity and the #MeToo movement.
Sept. 27, 2021: In New York, Kelly is found guilty of eight counts of Mann Act violations as well as one count of racketeering. The Mann Act forbids the transportation of individuals across state boundaries “for any immoral purpose.”