R. Kelly has been charged with multiple counts of criminal sexual abuse, according to multiple reports.

By Maria Pasquini
February 22, 2019
Credit: Earl Gibson III/Getty

R. Kelly has been charged with criminal sexual abuse, according to multiple reports.

According to The Chicago Sun-Times, the singer was charged in Cook County on Friday morning, and his first court date will be on March 8.

Sources went on to tell the newspaper that prosecutors for Cook County will be appearing before a judge later on Friday to try and obtain a signature for an arrest warrant for Kelly.

Two sources also told CNN that Kelly had been indicted by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office.

CBS Chicago went on to report that while one count did not specify the age of the victim, nine counts specified the victim was between the ages of 13 and 16. The outlet reports that all of the charges are Class 2 felonies and that the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office will be holding a press conference on Friday afternoon addressing the charges brought against the singer.

Both Kelly’s attorney, Steven Greenberg, and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office did not immediately reply to PEOPLE’s request for comment. Kelly, however, has repeatedly denied all accusations of sexual abuse or misconduct made against him.

Following the news, lawyer Michael Avenatti, who previously claimed earlier this month to have turned over a tape allegedly showing Kelly having sex with an underage girl, tweeted, “it’s over.”

“After 25 years of serial sexual abuse and assault of underage girls, the day of reckoning for R Kelly has arrived,” he added.

Avenatti previously told CNN that Cook County prosecutors investigating the allegations facing the embattled singer were given the previously unknown, 45-minute-long tape earlier this month on behalf of his client, a “whistleblower” who previously worked with the star.

The explicit video reportedly shows a man “who appears to be R. Kelly” and a girl having sex as they make mention of her “14-year-old” genitalia six different times, according to CNN.

The man also allegedly asks the girl to urinate on him, and she obliges.

Avenatti, who also represents Stormy Daniels — an adult film star who has claimed she had an affair with President Donald Trump, which he denies — said in a statement that he took on “multiple” clients with connections to Kelly, 52, last April, and has been poring through documents and evidence in the months since.

“It has now resulted in the discovery of significant new evidence conclusively establishing Mr. Kelly’s illegal sexual assault of young girls,” he alleged in a statement on Twitter. “Mr. Kelly is a predator and a criminal who has prayed [sic] on young, vulnerable girls for far too long. The time has come for him to finally be held accountable for his actions.” PEOPLE has not viewed the tape, and can not independently verify its contents.

On Feb. 14, State’s Attorney’s Office chief communications officer Tandra R. Simonton told CNN, “We cannot confirm or deny an investigation.

The “I Believe I Can Fly” singer’s attorney Steve Greenberg told CNN he was “unaware” of any new information regarding his client.

“We have not been contacted by anyone. We have not been informed about any new information by anyone and we have not been contacted by law enforcement,” he said.

Greenberg later replied to PEOPLE’s request for comment in a lengthy statement, reproduced here in part.

“This morning I woke up to reports that a video had surfaced showing R Kelly allegedly with an underage girl. The reports were prompted from a tweet by Michael Avenatti, who himself was the subject of unfavorable news articles just yesterday. Timing is everything,” the statement read.

“The calls and emails I received were the first I’ve heard of these allegations. I understand that CNN says that they have seen this video. 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. 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.”

Greenberg continued, “I have not been contacted by anyone connected with law enforcement, nor has R Kelly. 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. … We will have no further comment. Thanks to all his fans and their support.”

The actions reportedly featured in the tape echo that of a similar act featured in a sex tape allegedly showing Kelly and another underage girl that led to his 2002 arrest on child pornography charges. Six years later, a Cook County jury found Kelly not guilty on all 14 counts.

Kelly’s alleged behavior came to the media forefront again in July 2017, when BuzzFeed published a bombshell report accusing the star of running a “sex cult” out of his Chicago and Atlanta-area homes.

The star was reported to have seduced a slew of young women with the promise of helping them kickstart a music career, only to “groom” them into being his personal sex objects for whom he allegedly controlled every aspect of their lives.

Kelly has repeatedly denied all claims against him, though a renewed interest in the allegations emerged earlier this year with the release of the Lifetime documentary series Surviving R. Kelly.

“We are proud that Lifetime was able to provide a platform for survivors to be heard,” producers of the documentary told PEOPLE Friday in a statement.

If you suspect domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.


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