For more than two decades, R&B singer R. Kelly has faced allegations of sexual abuse. The stories go back to the start of his career in the 1990s, with many centering around the alleged predatory pursuit of teenage girls.
He is currently facing multiple state and federal charges in the US, with accusations including sexual assault, abuse of a minor, making indecent images of minors, racketeering and obstruction of justice.
The 52-year-old has consistently denied the claims. Kelly was himself the victim of child sexual abuse, and detailed in his autobiography how he was raped by a female family member when he was eight years old. Here is a history of the accusations against him.
1994: Marries Aaliyah
The star, then aged 27, marries 15-year-old singer Aaliyah at a secret ceremony in Chicago.
Vibe magazine later discovered that Aaliyah had lied on the wedding certificate about her age, listing herself as 18. The marriage was annulled in February 1995.
For the rest of her career, Aaliyah dodged questions about the nature of her relationship. “When people ask me, I tell them, ‘Hey, don’t believe all that mess,'” she told one interviewer. “We’re close and people took it the wrong way. Kelly has rarely spoken about Aaliyah since she died in a plane crash in 2001. She is not mentioned in his autobiography, where an author’s note explains “certain episodes could not be included for complicated reasons”.
In a 2016 interview with GQ magazine, he described their relationship as “best best best best friends”; but declined to comment on their marriage, saying: “I will never have that conversation with anyone. Out of respect for Aaliyah, and her mother and father who has asked me not to personally.”
1996: Sued for emotional distress
Tiffany Hawkins sues R. Kelly for the “personal injuries and emotional distress” she suffered during a three-year relationship with the star.
In court documents, she said she began having sex with Kelly in 1991, when she was 15 and he was 24, and the relationship ended three years later, when she turned 18. According to the Chicago Sun Times, Hawkins sought $10 million in damages, but accepted a fraction of that amount ($250,000) when the case was settled in 1998.
Kelly’s spokeswoman said she had “no knowledge” of the accusations.
2001: Sued by intern
Tracy Sampson sues R. Kelly, accusing him of inducing her “into an indecent sexual relationship” when she was 17 years old.
The woman, a former intern at Epic Records, claimed she was “treated as his personal sex object and cast aside”.
“He often tried to control every aspect of my life including who I would see and where I would go,” she said in her legal case against him. The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum, said the New York Post.
April and May 2002: Two more court cases
Kelly is sued for a third time by Patrice Jones, a Chicago woman who claims he impregnated her when she was underage, and that she was forced to have an abortion.
A woman named Montina Woods also sued Kelly, alleging that he videotaped them having sex without her knowledge. The recording was allegedly circulated on an R Kelly “sex tape” sold by bootleggers under the title R. Kelly Triple-X.
The star settled both cases out of court, paying an undisclosed sum in return for a non-disclosure agreement.
June 2002: Charged over child pornography
The star is charged with 21 counts of making child pornography, involving intercourse, oral sex, urination, and other sexual acts.
Chicago police accused him of videotaping each of these acts and enticing a minor to participate in them. All of the charges related to one girl, born in September 1984.
His arrest stemmed from a video which was sent anonymously to the Chicago Sun Times earlier in the year. They passed it on to police, who verified the authenticity of the tape with help from FBI forensic experts.
Kelly, who posted $750,000 bail, immediately denied the charges in an interview with MTV and later pleaded not guilty in court.
It took six years for the case to come to trial, during which time Kelly released his wildly successful Trapped In The Closet album; and was nominated for an Image Award by the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), prompting widespread criticism.
The jury eventually concluded they could not prove that the girl on the tape was a minor, and Kelly was found not guilty on all counts. Read more