Robert Kelly got away with everything for a long time. Now many underage victims are coming forward, and each day sheds new light on one of the worst open secrets in American pop culture.
R. Kelly is currently in custody in New York, and facing 18 criminal counts for abuse of women and girls -- among other offenses -- in that state and in his native Illinois. Monday brought a couple more charges, these stemming from an incident in a Minneapolis hotel room back in 2001.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced the allegations in a press conference Monday, outlining an incident in which Kelly hosted a teenage fan in his hotel room. She was there for an autograph. She got that, and a phone number, according to Freeman, and when she called Kelly later was invited to his hotel room.
There the girl was offered $200 to strip and dance; she took the offer, and Freeman said there was "sexual contact," though he stopped short of spelling out the alleged crime in detail.
"We have special laws to protect our juveniles, and we're going to enforce them," Freeman told reporters.
Soliciting a minor for prostitution can carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and/or a $40,000 fine under Minnesota law. Just when Kelly would even be around to face charges in Minnesota isn't clear: Kelly's criminal trial in New York is an extensive one, with five alleged victims and accusations of crossing state lines with victims.
He has pleaded not guilty, and in official court filings his attorney has called his accusers "disgruntled groupies" who "sought out Robert's attention." Kelly, meanwhile, has essentially been silenced publicly since his trainwreck of denial, anger, and narcissism with CBS News' Gayle King.
Freeman said Kelly's Minneapolis victim only told the story after her brother learned she'd been front row at a concert of Kelly's. Asked how she got that close, the girl told of being lured to Kelly's room.
Kelly, 52, spent decades as one of the most successful hit-makers in R&B, despite constant rumors of a seemingly pathological attraction to underage girls. He faced charges for making a sex tape with one young fan in the early 2000s, but was acquitted in 2008. Another decade would pass until, finally, prosecutors started piecing together Kelly's alleged victims' stories.
Hennepin County's court computer network was not working Monday, meaning the charging documents against Kelly were not yet accessible. We'll update this story as more information becomes available.