CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago prosecutor said Monday she will drop sex abuse charges against singer R. Kelly The disgraced R&B star was supposed to be guaranteed decades behind bars following federal convictions in two courts.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced the decision a day before a hearing that accused him of sexually abusing four people, three of whom were minors. She said she would ask the judge on Tuesday to dismiss the charges.
Fox, who in 2019 implored women and girls to come forward so she could press charges against Kelly, acknowledged the decision “could disappoint his accusers.”
“Mr. Kelly may consider the possibility of never getting out of prison again for the crimes he committed,” prosecutors said, referring to his federal conviction. “While today’s case is no longer pursued, we believe that justice has been served.”
Since Kelly was indicted in Cook County in 2019, Federal juries in Chicago and New York have convicted him of a string of crimes, including child pornography, solicitation, racketeering and sex trafficking in connection with allegations that he victimized women and girls.
Kelly, formerly known as Robert Sylvester Kelly, serves 30 years in New York case and await sentencing Feb. 23 in Chicago federal court. He is appealing those convictions. Based solely on the New York judgment, the 56-year-old would not be eligible for release until he was in his mid-80s.
Fox said she contacted Kelly’s attorney two weeks ago about the possibility of the charges being dropped. She also spoke to the women whose allegations are at the heart of the case.
Fox praised “the courage it took for them to come forward.”
Kelly’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, said she was “pleased” with the prosecution’s decision to drop the charges.
“He only has one life to give. So I don’t know how many sentences will be satisfying,” Bonjean said.
Lanita Carter, who said she was sexually assaulted by R. Kelly in February 2003, said she was “very disappointed” by the news.
“I have spent nearly 20 years hoping that my abuser would be brought to justice for what he did to me. With today’s announcement, all hope of justice in my case is dashed,” Carter said, adding that she trusted Fox and her office to tell her story and spent four years secretly confronting Kelly, to no avail.
“I did not get justice,” she said.
Prosecutors have sometimes opted to go ahead with more trials for fear that convictions elsewhere might be overturned during appeals. They view the chance of additional convictions as insurance.
“We didn’t do a monetary cost-benefit analysis,” Foxx said, but added that resources now spent on the trial could “be used to advocate for other survivors of sexual abuse.”
Another sexual misconduct case is pending in Hennepin County, Minnesota, Where Grammy winners face solicitation fees. That case was also on hold while the federal case was concluded. Prosecutors in Minnesota have not said whether they still intend to bring Kelly to trial.
Known for his smash hit “I Believe I Can Fly” and sex-filled songs like “Bump and Grind,” Kelly sold even after allegations of his abuse of young girls began to circulate publicly in the 1990s. Millions of albums. He defeated child pornography charges in Chicago in 2008 when a jury acquitted him.
It wasn’t until the #MeToo reckoning and the release of the Lifetime documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly” in early 2019 that there was widespread outrage over Kelly’s sexual misconduct.
Foxx announced the Cook County charges months before the federal cases in New York and Chicago. Foxx’s office said he sought out girls for sex on multiple occasions, including one he met at her 16th birthday party and another during Kelly’s trial in 2008.
Federal prosecutors in New York told jurors at the 2021 trial that Kelly used his entourage of managers and assistants to meet and subdue the girls, an operation prosecutors said constituted a criminal enterprise.
Prosecutors in the federal trial of Kelly in Chicago last year painted him as a master manipulator who used his fame and fortune to attract star-struck fans, some of them minors, sexually abuse them and then dump them. Four plaintiffs testified in court.
While prosecutors in that case were convicted on six of the 13 counts against him, the government lost a key count — Kelly and his then-business manager successfully rigging his 2008 child pornography trial.
Associated Press reporter Ed White in Detroit contributed to this story.
Follow Michael Tarm on Twitter https://twitter.com/mtarm And find more AP coverage of the R. Kelly trial at https://apnews.com/hub/r-kelly