Four years after new charges were announced against R&B superstar R. Kelly, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced Monday that her office will not be releasing the cases. in court because of the “resource worship” and the fact that Kelly is facing many years in federal prison. prison.
The county charges, all of which accuse Kelly of sexual assault or assault, were filed against the singer in February 2019, shortly after the Lifetime docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly” aired. ” which revived interest in the years of allegations swirling around Kelly and prompted Foxx to make a personal plea for the accusers to come forward.
At a news conference Monday at the Cook County Administration Building, the same place where he made that unusual outreach to victims, Foxx said the charges would be dismissed in the Tuesday morning during Kelly’s originally scheduled arraignment at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.
Because Kelly faces years in prison on various federal charges, Foxx said his office decided “not to spend our limited resources and judicial time” pursuing his own cases. .
“I want to point out that when we brought these charges, we brought them because we believe the allegations are credible, and we believe they should have the opportunity to hear the allegations,” said Foxx.
According to Foxx, those who prosecuted Kelly “should be commended for their bravery and their continued pursuit of justice no matter how long it took”.
There have been weeks of speculation that the cases will be dropped, especially after a series of court situations before Associate Justice Lawrence Flood came in and there was no progress in the trial.
Foxx, who is a self-described survivor of sexual assault, said his office made the decision after consulting with the victims in each of the four cases. Their responses were mixed, he said. Some were also involved in federal cases, and are satisfied with the outcome, especially the failure of the process of government cases.
“For those who have not had the opportunity to put their hands on the Bible, or who have felt for the past 20 years that their pain is not recognized, this is certainly a sad day for them,” Foxx said, noting one woman. was very sad to know that he will not get his day in court.
“His pain and his case are no less important than others,” Foxx said, noting that officials brought the charges because they believed the allegations.
In an exclusive interview Monday night, Lanita Carter – the woman at the center of one of the Cook County charges – said she believes she is the woman Foxx was referring to.
Carter told police in 2003 that Kelly had seriously damaged her head when she came in to get her hair braided. No charges were brought at that time. And when he found out that the prosecution had canceled the charge of 2019, he was very sad, he said.
“It made me feel very low. And really, it made me feel like I didn’t matter anymore, like I didn’t exist in 2003. I wanted to be important this time,” he said. “And I spoke up because I believed that everyone would do something, and I felt strong. And it didn’t happen to me.”
“If you believe in me, then you will fight for me. If you believe in me, you will advocate for me,” he said.
Kelly’s attorney, Steven Greenberg, said he was pleased with Foxx’s decision, but it reinforced his belief that the charges were an inappropriate response to a one-sided television show at the height of the #MeToo movement.
“As I say every day, I don’t think these charges should have been brought in the first place,” Greenberg said. “I think these issues were exposed. The idea of asking for victims was not good and should not have happened.”
Jennifer Bonjean, one of Kelly’s attorneys, said that taking him to court in Cook County – especially in cases involving the victims himself and behavior that he has already been convicted of federal, will increase.
“You are only given one life,” he said. “I think it’s a good use of the prosecutor’s discretion.”
Kelly, 56, who remains in custody at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in the Loop, is not expected to appear in court if the charges are dismissed Tuesday.
The district’s case made international headlines when it was published four years ago. He was mobbed by reporters as he turned himself in to the Central District police station, and fans played his music as they waited for him to be released from prison. After he was released, Kelly gave his famous interview with Gayle King on “CBS This Morning,” and journalists began writing blogs and publishing all parts of the case against him.
But the timing of the charges soon took a back seat to a pair of federal investigations by US attorneys’ offices in New York and Chicago that led to separate indictments announced in July 2019.
Kelly was convicted in New York of conspiracy and sentenced in June to 30 years in prison. He is scheduled to appear next month at the Dirksen US Courthouse in Chicago, due to the charges he was convicted of last September, related to pornographic images. of children and misbehavior with young children.
The federal convictions forced Cook County prosecutors into a difficult comparison. If they bring him to court and win, it will have little lasting effect on Kelly, who is expected to spend years in federal custody regardless of what they do. If they lose, it will prove very embarrassing for the office that published the original charges with great fanfare.
Either way takes time and resources, and may require victims to relive traumatic moments on a public witness stand.
One of the Cook County cases involved Jerhonda Pace, who was a key witness against Kelly at his federal trial in New York last year. Another focused on videos of Kelly abusing his teenage daughter, which jurors in Kelly’s federal trial in Chicago watched over the summer. Kelly’s defense previously announced that the judge would try to throw out the cases because they were similar to the conduct for which he was convicted by the federal government.
The third Cook County case involved a woman identified as HW, who accused Kelly of having sex with her when she was only 16. year.
After the federal charges were filed, Lolo repeatedly said they should not interfere with the county’s case.
“I understand there are two other cases in federal court, New York and Chicago,” he said from the bench in December 2019. “That is not the real concern of this court. These victims deserve their day in court just like other people in other cases.”
After saying that, he set the date for Kelly County Cook’s first court hearing in September 2020. That did not happen, at least in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2021, after Kelly’s sentencing in New York, Foxx told the Tribune that district attorneys had agreed to remain in a “pre-trial phase” while the federal case was handled. .
But even after the two federal trials, the county’s cases continued to stall, with trial after trial and little progress.
Kelly, a Chicago native, started out in underground spots before becoming famous with hits like “I Believe I Can Fly” and “Ignition: Remix.”
Allegations of sexual misconduct with teenagers have dogged him for years, and were first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times more than two decades ago.
Cook County prosecutors in 2002 charged him with child pornography, saying he filmed himself having sex with his 14-year-old daughter. He was acquitted six years later after a brutal trial in which the victim did not testify.
Years later, he enjoyed something of a career revival, playing the Pitchfork Music Festival in his hometown in 2013 and collaborating with artists such as Lady Gaga and Mariah Carey.
But the controversy continued, and came to a head a few years later fueled by investigative articles by music critic and journalist Jim DeRogatis in BuzzFeed and The New Yorker, as well as malicious allegations against the blockbuster. Lifetime documentary “Surviving R. Kelly.”
After the press release in January 2019, Foxx held a rare press conference, saying he was “sickened” by the allegations and issued a public plea for Kelly’s accusers to come forward.
Cook County charges were heard about a month later, and federal charges were dropped later that year.
A federal court in Brooklyn indicted Kelly in 2021 on defamation charges that his music career doubled as a criminal enterprise intended to satisfy his sexual desires. That case resulted in a 30-year sentence.
The most recent conviction came in September in federal court in Chicago, where Kelly was convicted of sexually assaulting her 14-year-old goddaughter on the videotape in the 1990s, as well as sexual misconduct with two other minors during the same period.
Kelly was acquitted of perjury charges in 2008, but is still serving 10 to 90 years in prison. years in prison when he was sentenced on February 23 by US District Judge Harry Leinenweber.
“(Kelly) has been prosecuted for his actions … the use of our limited resources that requires those resources to be devoted to support for other survivors of sexual violence,” Foxx said, and noted that the agency handles hundreds of other low-profile sex-offense cases, many of which involve victims of color.
“I want to make sure that today’s announcement, and the fact that we will no longer pursue these cases, is not a sign that we are not looking at them,” he said, promising his officials will “work hard for them. to give them justice.”