BROOKLYN, NY — The sex-trafficking and racketeering charges against R. Kelly are just a case of “groupie remorse,” a lawyer for the disgraced singer argues in a new filing in Brooklyn Federal Court.
In a Tuesday letter that name-checks Van Halen, Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga, New Jersey-based lawyer Douglas C. Anton suggests the women and girls Kelly is accused of holding captive were no more than loyal fans eager to sleep with him.
“If this was the ‘pattern’ or ‘enterprise’ the government seeks to make it out to be, is five (5) disgruntled groupies, not all of which are alleged to be under age, who now show groupie remorse so many years later … really what the United States Government seeks to make into ‘racketeering activity?'” Anton wrote in the letter to U.S. District Judge Ann M. Donnelly.
The letter asks the judge not to keep Kelly behind bars while he awaits trial in New York, even though a Chicago federal judge has already ordered him detained in a separate case there.
Kelly, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, is scheduled to be arraigned Friday in Brooklyn on charges of racketeering and violating the Mann Act, an anti-sex trafficking law.
Prosecutors have accused Kelly of running a tightly controlled enterprise of sexual abuse dating back two decades in which he isolated women and girls from their friends and family, hoarded sensitive information about them and forced them to call him “Daddy.”
Anton’s letter tries to cast Kelly’s alleged abuse as typical interactions between famous musicians and fans eager to befriend him.
The control that prosecutors say Kelly exerted over the women and girls’ daily lives — such as not allowing them to leave their rooms to eat without permission — were “standard security protocols for securing the safety of visiting fans, groupies or the like,” according to the lawyer’s letter.
Anton also included a link to a YouTube video of a David Letterman interview with Van Halen’s David Lee Roth explaining how the band would find fans to court.
Kelly should be allowed to go free in the New York case because his release poses “zero danger” and there is “zero” evidence of his guilt, Anton argues.
“What is the claim in the NY case?” the letter reads. “That he will get out of jail and go randomly have unprotected sex with other consenting adult women who love him and are groupies? Really?”
John Marzulli, a spokesman for the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s Office, declined to comment on the letter but pointed to prosecutors’ July 12 court filing arguing that Kelly should be jailed.
In that letter, prosecutors said they have “strong” evidence against Kelly including medical records, photographs and testimony from witnesses previously employed by his operation. They also alleged that he has shown a willingness to intimidate possible witnesses.
To Jim DeRogatis, the music critic and reporter who has chronicled allegations of abuse against Kelly for nearly two decades, the singer’s case is unlike any other in the notorious history of musicians and their groupies.
“Led Zeppelin, James Brown, you name it — nobody has a body count this extensive,” DeRogatis said. “Nobody in the history of pop music has ever been charged with crimes this extensive.” Protective order granted in R. Kelly’s case.