December 9, 2023


Arts Eternal

R Kelly’s life, from troubled talent to trafficking trial | Entertainment


R Kelly has long faced and denied allegations of lurid behaviour and sex abuse. A jury has now found him guilty of sex trafficking in a federal trial in New York stemming from those allegations.

A timeline of Kelly’s life:

January 8, 1967: Robert Sylvester Kelly was born in Chicago as the third of four children of schoolteacher Joann Kelly. Little is known about his father.

1975: Kelly begins singing in church. Around that time, years of sexual abuse by an adult relative begins, according to his 2012 memoir.

1979: Kelly witnesses a rape at age 12.

1983: Mother moves the family from Chicago housing projects and enrols Kelly in the prestigious Kenwood Academy.

1984: Performs Stevie Wonder hit Ribbon in the Sky in a talent show. In the following years, he performs in subway stations with his keyboard, often feigning blindness to avoid arrest.

1990: His R&B group MGM wins a US$100,000 grand prize on the show Big Break. Jive Records executive Wayne Williams discovers Kelly singing at a barbecue.

January 1992: R Kelly & Public Announcement debuts Born Into The ’90s. The album, released the following year, goes platinum.

November 1993: His album 12 Play is released and eventually sells more than 5 million copies. Hit singles include Sex Me and Bump N’ Grind.

August 31, 1994: At 27, R Kelly marries 15-year-old singer Aaliyah D Haughton in a secret ceremony. The marriage is annulled months later because of Aaliyah’s age.

September 1994: Aaliyah’s debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number, which Kelly produced, goes platinum. Aaliyah dies in a plane crash seven years later, at age 22.

1996: Releases third album R Kelly and incorporates Rockland Records. The song I Believe I Can Fly is a huge hit. He marries 22-year-old dancer Andrea Lee, and they go on to have three children: Joanne, Jaya and Robert Jr.

February 18, 1997: Tiffany Hawkins files a complaint alleging sexual battery and harassment when she was a minor.

January 1998: Hawkins’ lawsuit is reportedly settled for US$250,000.

February 1998: Kelly wins three Grammys for I Believe I Can Fly.

November 1998: Album R hits stores and eventually sells 6 million copies.

November 2000: Album debuts at No. 1.

August 2001: Tracy Sampson sues Kelly, alleging their sex was illegal under Illinois law because he was in a position of authority. The case is reportedly settled out of court.

February 8, 2002: Chicago Sun-Times reports that it received a videotape showing Kelly having sex with a minor and that police had begun investigating related allegations three years earlier. The girl and her parents deny the relationship. The same day, Kelly performs at the opening ceremonies for the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

June 5, 2002: Kelly indicted in Chicago on child porn charges stemming from the sex tape, pleads not guilty and is released on bail.

January 2003: Kelly is arrested at a Florida hotel on child porn charges after investigators say they found photos of him with a girl. Charges are later dropped after a judge rules police didn’t have a warrant.

February 18, 2003: The album Chocolate Factory is released to immediate success.

July 2005: Album TP.3 Reloaded hits No. 1.

September 2005: Andrea Kelly asks for an order of protection, accusing her husband of hitting her when she asked for a divorce.

February 2006: Carey Kelly says his brother offered him US$50,000 and a record deal to say he was the person in the sex video.

May 29, 2007: Album Double Up is released and later hits No. 1.

May 9, 2008: Child pornography trial begins.

June 13, 2008: Kelly is acquitted after fast jury deliberations.

January 8, 2009: Kelly and Andrea confirm they divorced.

July 12, 2011: Crain’s Chicago Business reports a US$2.9 million foreclosure was filed on Kelly’s suburban Chicago mansion. A spokesperson says Kelly is not having financial trouble.

March 21, 2012: Kelly announces he is reviving a video series, Trapped in the Closet, that eventually becomes a rap opera about a web of sexual deceit. There is talk of a Broadway show.

June 15, 2012: Chicago Sun-Times reports Kelly owes the IRS more than US$4.8 million.

June 27, 2012: Publishes autobiography Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me, focusing on his creative and family life.

March 18, 2013: R Kelly’s mansion, once valued at more than US$5 million, sells for US$950,000 at auction.

2017: BuzzFeed reports on parents’ claims that Kelly brainwashed their daughters. Activists launch the #MuteRKelly movement, calling for boycotts of his music.

February 13, 2018: Kelly is evicted from two Atlanta-area homes over more than US$31,000 in unpaid rent.

April 2018: Time’s Up campaign joins #MuteRKelly and pushes for investigation. Kelly’s camp responds: “We will vigorously resist this attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture.”

May 2018: Spotify cuts R Kelly’s music from its playlists. Apple and Pandora soon stop promoting his music.

May 21, 2018: Faith Rodgers, 20, sues R Kelly, alleging sexual battery, mental and verbal abuse, and knowingly inflicting her with herpes.

January 3, 2019: Lifetime airs Surviving R Kelly, revisiting old allegations and airing new ones. It follows 2018’s R Kelly: Sex, Girls & Videotapes on BBC.

January 9, 2019: Lady Gaga says she will remove the 2013 duet with Kelly from streaming services.

January 14, 2019: Rodgers says Kelly threatened to reveal embarrassing details of her sexual history if she didn’t drop May 2018 lawsuit.

January 21, 2019: News reports say Kelly and his label, Sony subsidiary RCA Records, part ways. Fellow musicians, including Celine Dion, further distance themselves.

February 6, 2019: Kelly tweets about a new tour of Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, then deletes it following backlash.

February 14, 2019: Attorney Michael Avenatti says he gave Chicago prosecutors new video evidence of Kelly with a girl.

February 22, 2019: Kelly is arrested and charged with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse.

February 25, 2019: Kelly pleads not guilty, posts bail and is released from Chicago jail.

March 2019: In a CBS interview, Kelly denies sexual abuse charges. Authorities in Illinois take Kelly into custody after he tells a judge he can’t pay US$161,000 in back child support.

May 30, 2019: Kelly is charged with 11 new counts in Chicago involving a woman who accused him of abusing her when she was underage.

July 11, 2019: Kelly is indicted in Chicago on federal charges, including child pornography. A separate federal indictment in New York includes charges of racketeering. He is again arrested in Chicago.

July 16, 2019: Judge orders Kelly held without bond.

August 2, 2019: Kelly pleads not guilty to sexually abusing women and girls who attended his concerts. His lawyers call them disgruntled groupies.

August 5, 2019: Kelly is charged in Minnesota with soliciting a 17-year-old.

October 2, 2019: Kelly is denied bail in his New York City case.

December 5, 2019: Kelly is charged with paying a bribe in exchange for a “fraudulent identification document” a day before he married Aaliyah. He later pleads, not guilty.

March 5, 2020: Kelly pleads not guilty in Chicago to an updated federal indictment that includes a new accuser.

August 12, 2020: Charges announced against three men accused of threatening and intimidating women who accused Kelly of abuse.

August 14, 2020: Kelly’s manager is arrested in California on charges that he threatened a shooting at a Manhattan theatre two years before, forcing the cancellation of a screening of a documentary about allegations against R Kelly.

July 24, 2021: Federal prosecutors say Kelly had sexual contact with a boy in addition to girls, and the government wants trial jurors to hear those claims.

August 18, 2021: Opening statements begin in Kelly’s federal trial in New York.

September 24, 2021: The jury begins deliberating in the New York trial, even as trial dates in Illinois and Minnesota cases remain to be set.

September 27, 2021: The jury finds R. Kelly guilty of sex trafficking and violating the Mann Act, which makes it illegal to take anyone across state lines “for any immoral purpose”.

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