R&B singer R Kelly, long trailed by lurid rumours, has been charged with aggravated sexual abuse involving multiple victims dating back two decades. Here’s a timeline of his troubled history with abuse:
— January 8, 1967: Robert Sylvester Kelly is born in Chicago to Joann Kelly, a schoolteacher. R Kelly is third of four children and lives with his family in Chicago’s housing projects. Little is known about his father.
— 1979: At age 12, Kelly said, he “experienced a lot of things at a very young age that I don’t know if I was supposed to,” including witnessing older youth rape one of his girlfriends.
— Aug. 31, 1994: At age 27, R Kelly marries 15-year-old R&B singer Aaliyah D Haughton. The couple weds in a secret ceremony arranged by Kelly at a hotel in Chicago. 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 produces, is certified platinum. (Aaliyah died in a plane crash seven years later, at age 22.)
— November 1996: R Kelly releases his third album, ‘R Kelly’. A month later, he incorporates Rockland Records, where he can groom new artists, and his song ‘I Believe I Can Fly’, from the ‘Space Jam’ soundtrack, peaks at No 2 on the Billboard pop chart. The same year, he marries 22-year-old Andrea Lee, a dancer from his touring troupe. The couple goes on to have three children: Joanne, Jaya and Robert Jr.
— Feb. 18, 1997: Tiffany Hawkins files a complaint against Kelly alleging intentional sexual battery and sexual harassment while she was a minor, according to court records.
— January 1998: Hawkins’ lawsuit is reportedly settled for $250,000 (Dh918,127), shortly after she gave a seven-hour deposition.
— August 2001: Tracy Sampson files a lawsuit against Kelly, alleging their sex was illegal under Illinois law because he was in “a position of authority” over her. The case is reportedly settled out of court in the spring of 2002, for an undisclosed amount.
— February 8, 2002: The Chicago Sun-Times reports that it received a 26-minute, 39-second videotape allegedly showing Kelly having sex with a minor. The paper reports Chicago police began investigating allegations about Kelly and the same girl three years earlier. At the time, the girl and her parents deny she was having sex with Kelly.
The same day the news breaks, Kelly performs at the opening ceremonies for the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
— June 5, 2002: Kelly is indicted in Chicago on 21 counts of child pornography, stemming from the sex tape. He pleads not guilty and is released on $750,000 bail.
— January 2003: Kelly is arrested at a Miami Dade hotel in Florida on additional child pornography charges after investigators said they found photos of him having sex with a girl. Kelly is released from jail on $12,000 bond. Charges are later dropped after judge rules police didn’t have a warrant to search Kelly’s house.
— February 2004: In Chicago, Cook County prosecutors drop seven of the 21 child pornography charges against Kelly.
— September 2005: Andrea Kelly asked for an order of protection from her husband, accusing the singer of hitting her when she said she wanted a divorce. The couple reconciles. She says later they live in different homes.
— February 2006: R. Kelly’s brother, Carey Kelly, says his brother offered him $50,000 and a record deal to say he was the person on the sex video.
— August 2007: In Chicago, Judge Vincent Gaughan rules that jurors and the public will see the sex tape in open court, rejecting arguments from defence lawyers and prosecutors that it shouldn’t be shown.
— September 2007: Following a five year delay, the trial is scheduled to start — but Gaughan postpones it until 2008. He doesn’t explain why.
— May 9, 2008: Kelly’s child pornography trial finally begins.
— June 13, 2008: Kelly acquitted on all counts after less than a full day of deliberations.
— January 8, 2009: Kelly and his former wife, Andrea, confirm had divorced after 11 years of marriage.
— July 17, 2017: BuzzFeed reports on parents’ claims that Kelly brainwashed their daughters and was keeping them in an abusive “cult.” One woman says she was with Kelly willingly. Following the BuzzFeed report, activists launched the #MuteRKelly movement, calling for boycotts of his music.
— April 30, 2018: The Time’s Up campaign, devoted to helping women in the aftermath of sexual abuse, joined the #MuteRKelly social media campaign and issued a statement urging further investigation into Kelly’s behaviour, which had come under closer scrutiny over the last year as women came forward to accuse him of everything from sexual coercion to physical abuse. An appearance at a concert in his native Chicago was cancelled after protests. Kelly’s camp responded: “We will vigorously resist this attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture.”
— May 11, 2018: Spotify cuts R Kelly’s music from its playlists, citing its new policy on hate content and hateful conduct. Kelly’s team says he has only promoted love in his music and that Spotify is acting on “false and unproven allegations.” They note other artists on the service have been accused or convicted of crimes.
— May 21, 2018: News outlets report that Apple and Pandora are also not promoting Kelly’s music, though both companies haven’t officially made announcements.
— May 21, 2018: Faith Rodgers, 20, accuses R Kelly of sexual battery, mental and verbal abuse, and knowingly inflicting her with herpes during a yearlong relationship, according to a lawsuit filed in New York.
— January 3, 2019: Lifetime airs the documentary ‘Surviving R Kelly’, which revisited old allegations against him and brought new ones into the spotlight. The series follows the BBC’s “R Kelly: Sex, Girls & Videotapes,” released the previous year, that alleged the singer was holding women against their will and running a “sex cult.”
— January 8, 2019: Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx holds press conference after her office is inundated with calls about the allegations in the documentary, some tied to Kelly’s Chicago-area home. Foxx says there’s no active investigation of Kelly and that launching one would require victims and witnesses.
— January 9, 2019: Lady Gaga apologises for her 2013 duet with R Kelly in the wake of the sexual misconduct allegations against him, saying she intended to remove the song, “Do What U Want (With My Body),” from streaming services. The collaboration had been intensely criticised when it was released, in part because of the allegations against him and because of the sexually charged performances they did on “Saturday Night Live” and the American Music Awards in 2013.
— January 10, 2019: Nielsen Music says streaming numbers for R Kelly nearly doubled after the Lifetime documentary. Kelly averaged more than 955,600 streams in the last week of 2018. He averaged more than 1.5 million streams from Jan. 3-6.
— January 14, 2019: Faith Rogers said Kelly had written a letter last October to one of her lawyers, threatening to reveal embarrassing details of her sexual history if she didn’t drop her May 2018 lawsuit accusing him of sexual abuse. The Chicago Tribune publishes a story detailing court records it obtained on a July lawsuit seeking payment of $174,000 in back rent and other costs for his Chicago recording studio. A signed eviction notice was put on hold for Kelly to pay by Jan. 21.
— February 1, 2019: An estimated 25.8 million people had seen all or some of the six-part documentary series that brought together dozens of people who accused Kelly of sexual misconduct, primarily contact with underage girls, since the first episode aired Jan. 3, according to the Nielsen company.
— February 6, 2019: Kelly announced by tweet a new tour outside the US, saying he’d be going to Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka. The tweet was later deleted following a backlash from Twitter users who urged fans not to buy concert tickets.
— February 14, 2019: Attorney Michael Avenatti said he gave Chicago prosecutors new video evidence of Kelly having sex with an underage girl, and that it is not the same evidence used in Kelly’s 2008 trial, when he was acquitted on child pornography charges.
— February 22, 2019: Kelly is charged with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse. He is arrested after turning himself in to police.
— February 23, 2019: A judge sets Kelly’s bond at $1 million, saying it amounts to $250,000 for each of the four people he’s charged with abusing.
— February 25, 2019: Kelly’s attorney enters not guilty pleas on the singer’s behalf. Hours later, Kelly posts $100,000 bail — 10 per cent of the $1 million bond set by the judge — and is released from jail in Chicago.