On Sept. 27, R. Kelly, was found guilty on all nine charges brought against him by the government, including racketeering and sex trafficking, at the end of his federal trial in New York.
For the embattled performer, he has a long history of legal woes and accusations stemming from his sexual history dating back to the ’90s. Despite his questionable past, he released platinum-selling albums, including his 2004 effort Chocolate Factory, which dropped at the height of sex-tape allegations.
Billboard created an extensive timeline highlighting Kelly’s checkered past. Take a look below:
According to a story published in Vibe, R. Kelly — who was 27 at the time — illegally married then-14-year-old Aaliyah during a secret wedding ceremony in Cook County, Chicago. Vibe discovered that Aaliyah lied on her wedding certificate about her age, listing herself as 18. Both parties vehemently denied the reports. The marriage was later annulled in February 1995.
The “World’s Greatest” singer was embroiled in a nasty brawl in Lafayette, Louisiana, at a health club. Christopher Mahoney claimed that Kelly and his entourage assaulted him during a pickup basketball game. He received 110 stitches on his face. After Lafayette District Attorney Mike Harson researched the case during a civil trial, he learned that Kelly wasn’t responsible for the assault. Harson reduced Kelly’s felony second-degree battery charge to simple battery. As a result, he was sentenced to one year unsupervised probation.
In 1996, a Chicago woman named Tiffany Hawkins filed charges against R. Kelly for personal injuries and emotional distress she suffered during their three-year relationship in the early ’90s. In 1991, Kelly, 24 at the time, initiated a sexual relationship with Hawkins, who was 15 years old. Hawkins later demanded $10 million in damages, but reports revealed that she only received $250,000 when the lawsuit was settled in January 1998.
Kelly was arrested on three misdemeanor charges for blasting his music loudly from his vehicle. All three charges were dropped that month.
The crooner’s life spiraled for the worst when a video surfaced of him allegedly having sex with an underage girl. Things appeared bleak for the singer when he was accused of urinating on the girl in the video. When reports broke, Kelly spoke with MTV News and denied all accusations.
Kelly was slapped with 21 counts of child pornography. Not only did cops apprehend him because of his Chicago arrest warrant, but his Florida residence was subjected to a search. Cops discovered a digital camera with 12 images of an underage girl. She was the same minor in the videotape that got Kelly indicted in Chicago. Three of the pictures displayed Kelly allegedly engaging in disturbing acts with the young female.
After his charges in Florida were dropped due to lack of probable cause of a search warrant, Kelly dodged another bullet when his counts in the Chicago case were reduced from 21 to 14. In 2008, the case finally went to trial and Kelly was found not guilty after a day of deliberations.
According to a Buzzfeed report, Kelly has been accused of holding women hostage as part of his abusive “cult.” The story focuses on him housing six different women and controlling all aspects of their lives: “from what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep, and how they engage in sexual encounters that he records.”
Later, Jocelyn Savage — one of the women being allegedly held captive — spoke out publicily about the allegations in an interview wiyh TMZ. “I just want everybody to know, my parents and everybody in the world, that I am totally fine. I’m happy where I’m at, and everything is okay with me…I’ve never been held hostage or anything of that nature.” When asked about her current whereabouts, if she has roommates, or if she’s free to leave, however, all she would say is “I wouldn’t want to speak on that.”
Towards the end of July, Kelly spoke out against the allegations and labeled them as “crap” in a video he posted on Twitter. He also vowed to keep his tour intact.
In a new story ran by Buzzfeed News, Jerhonda Pace, spoke about her first encounter with R. Kelly when she was 15. Pace admitted to being a strong supporter of Kelly’s during his 2008 child pornography case. After lying about her age to get inside the courtroom, Kelly’s encourage befriended Pace. Months later, she was invited to Kelly’s home where he allegedly engaged in sexual intercourse with Pace and recorded her without her consent.
Pace sought after a settlement against Kelly, which involved a nondisclosure agreement, and won. However, in 2012, she sent an e-mail to her lawyer’s assistant claiming that she didn’t receive her full amount. She opted to break her nondisclosure as part as her “healing process.”
“I know speaking out against Kelly, Kelly could sue me. But I’m really not worried about it anymore. I feel like this is a healing process for me, because I’ve been holding this in for so many years, and to see that he always gets away with it, it’s just not right,” she said. “I’m just going forward with my head held high.”
According to the New York Times, a Texas woman, Faith Rodgers, filed a complaint against R. Kelly alleging sexual battery, false imprisonment and failure to disclose a sexually transmitted disease. Rodgers — who was seeking unspecified damages — claimed that she and Kelly met after a concert in San Antonio in March 2017. The two remained in contact via phone for several months before Kelly ultimately flew Rodgers to New York. The two met at his hotel and Rodgers claimed that Kelly allegedly “initiated unwanted sexual contact,” which included “non-consensual oral and vaginal intercourse.” As a result, Rodgers claimed that she was infected with the herpes virus through Kelly. For the course of a year, she continued her relationship with Kelly and said he “routinely engaged in intimidation, mental, verbal and sexual abuse, during and after sexual contact.”
“We want to make sure that we do justice for our client,” Rodgers’ attorney Lydia C. Hills told Billboard last May. “This behavior of Mr. Kelly’s is not new, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise for anyone. But our ultimate goal is getting justice for her.”
Jan. 3-5, 2019
At the start of January, Lifetime aired its three-night documentary titled, Surviving R. Kelly, which chronicled Kelly’s alleged string of abuse against women of color. From his secret marriage to an underaged Aaliyah and his 2008 child pornography case — for which he was acquitted — to his alleged sex cult, Kelly’s personal life was on full display. A myriad of women, including the singer’s ex-wife, Andrea Kelly, called out the embattled star for his alleged history of abuse.
Notable celebrities such as John Legend, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Chance the Rapper and Meek Mill banished Kelly and urged fans to do the same in hopes of restoring normalcy back into the lives of the alleged victims.
“I’m not feeling R after watching that,” said Meek on Twitter. “It’s so much filthy shit going on in this industry nobody will ever really speak on the wild shit because most of them could have docs like this or even worst done about them!”
Jan. 18, 2019
In an interview with Dateline, Tracy Sampson — a former intern at Epic Records — claimed that she was sexually abused by R. Kelly when she was a teenager. According to Sampson, she was 16 years old when Kelly began courting her. During her interview, she recalled a time when he allegedly forced his way into a kiss after she denied him the first time.
“Can I kiss you?” the now 36-year-old Sampson recounted, “And I was like, ‘No,'” to which prompted him to ask, “‘Well, give me a hug.’ And then, like, when I gave him a hug he just started kissing me.”
After the encounter, Sampson revealed she later thought she was “in love with him.” “I just didn’t know what to do. Like, I didn’t know if this was normal. I didn’t know if this is how adults acted,” she said.
After Sampson turned 18, she ended her relationship with Kelly and filed a lawsuit against him. She told Dateline that she settled out of court and received $250,000 in 2002.
On the same day, Sony and R. Kelly agreed to part ways, sources told Billboard. Following the airing of the explosive docuseries, protests against Kelly amplified, resulting in notable artists such as Lady Gaga, Celine Dion and Chance The Rapper opting to pull their collaborations with the troubled singer off of streaming services.
Kelly’s departure comes after several #MuteRKelly protests took place outside of Sony HQ in New York City. There, members of #MuteRKelly, Black Women’s Blueprint, Care2, Color of Change, CREDO, Girls for Gender Equity, NOW-NYC and Ultraviolent took a stand, demanding the release of Kelly.
The “Ignition” singer’s music will remain with RCA/Sony and is currently available on digital retailers and streaming services.
Additionally, R. Kelly’s former manager, Henry James Mason, surrendered to Atlanta police after facing a warrant for his arrest. Mason, 52, was hit with charges of felony terroristic threats, according to multiple reports.
Mason is accused of making threats to the family of Joycelyn Savage, one of the women Kelly is allegedly holding hostage. Savage’s family appeared on the Lifetime docu-series, Surviving R. Kelly, and conveyed their desperation in order to get their daughter back. Savage has maintained that she is with Kelly under her free will. According to WSB-TV reporter Mark Winne, Mason was released on a $10,000 bond.
Feb. 22, 2019
The legal troubles continued for R. Kelly, who was charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. He was arrested in regards to allegations involving four victims, three of which were minors, taking place from 1998 to 2010. Each count could warrant three to seven years in prison, or probation, according Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.
Feb. 25, 2019
Kelly’s bail was reportedly posted by a friend, restaurant owner, Valencia P. Love, according to the Chicago Sun Times. In addition to her restaurant, Love On The Blu, news also surfaced reporting Love’s affiliation with Lord and Child Day Care in Chicago. Kelly was seen leaving the jail with his attorney and did not speak with the media.
Mar. 6, 2019
R. Kelly gave an explosive interview to Gayle King, during which he had an outburst that went viral. The singer was openly emotional and crying as he defended himself and denied any allegations. Later in the day he was arrested by Cook County for failing to pay $161,000 in child support.
Mar. 7, 2019
Gayle King also interviewed Kelly’s current girlfriends, Joycelyn and Azriel, who believe he has been falsely portrayed by the media. However, Kelly was apparently in the room with them during the interview, despite saying he would not be.
R. Kelly appeared in federal court in Chicago and entered a plea deal to an updated federal indictment involving sex abuse and child pornography allegations from a new accuser as well as sexual exploitation of children. He eventually pleaded not guilty to the 13-count superseded indictment. One week later, federal prosecutors in New York hit him with more criminal charges as the disgraced R&B hitmaker faced new racketeering charges in a revised indictment, which also accused him of having unprotected sex with a girl in 2015 without disclosing he had herpes.
After several delays, mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, his federal trial in New York officially began on Aug. 9 with jury selection, which was comprised of seven men and five women. The five-week trial consisted of arguments, physical evidence (some not shown to the public) and 45 witness testimonies from the prosecution alone. The victims — eight Jane Does and two John Does — recounted their horrific experiences with the singer that his former employees and associates corroborated with. And for the first time, Kelly was held accountable by the law regarding his illegal marriage to an underage Aaliyah, which came to light during the trial. The “Step in the Name of Love” declined to testify.
Sept. 26, 2021
R. Kelly is found guilty on all nine charges brought against him by the government, including including racketeering, sexual exploitation of a child, bribery, kidnapping, forced labor and Mann Act Coercion and Enticement. “Today’s guilty verdict forever brands R. Kelly as a predator who used his fame and fortune to prey on the young, the vulnerable and the voiceless for his own sexual gratification — a predator who used his inner circle to ensnare underage girls and young men and women for decades an assorted web of sex abuse, exploitation and humiliation,” said acting U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis in a press conference following the verdict. “To the victims in this case, your voices were heard and justice was finally served.” He faces up to life in prison and will await his sentence on May 4, 2022. The “I Believe I Can Fly” singer has yet to face child pornography and obstruction charges in Illinois and child prostitution charges in Minnesota.