CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago prosecutor said Monday he is dropping the sex-abuse charges against singer R. Kelly following federal convictions in two courts that are expected to ensure the disgraced R&B star will be locked up for decades.
Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx announced the decision a day before a hearing related to state charges accusing him of sexually abusing four people, three of whom were minors. He said he would ask a judge to dismiss the charges on Tuesday.
Foxx, who pleaded with women and girls in 2019 to come forward so he could pursue charges against Kelly, acknowledged the decision “could be disappointing” for his accusers.
“Mr. Kelly is potentially considering never getting out of jail again for the crimes he committed,” the prosecutor said, referring to his federal convictions. “Although today’s cases are no longer being prosecuted, we believe 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 variety of crimes, including child pornography, soliciting, racketeering and sex trafficking related to allegations that he stalked women and girls .
Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, is serving a 30-year prison sentence in the New York case and awaits sentencing February 23 in federal court in Chicago. He is appealing those convictions. Based on the New York ruling alone, the 56-year-old cannot be released until he is in his 80s.
Foxx said he contacted Kelly’s attorney two weeks ago to indicate the charges could be dropped. He also spoke to the women whose allegations were at the center of the case.
Foxx praised the “courage it takes to come forward”.
Messages asking Kelly’s attorney for comment were not immediately returned.
Prosecutors sometimes choose to move forward with more trials out of concern that convictions elsewhere might be reversed during appeals. They see an opportunity for further convictions such as insurance.
“We haven’t done a monetary cost-benefit analysis,” Foxx said, adding, however, that the resources spent on a trial now could instead be used “in defense of other survivors of sexual abuse.”
Another sexual misconduct case is pending in Hennepin County, Minnesota, where the Grammy Award winner faces soliciting charges. That case was also put on hold while the federal cases unfolded. Minnesota prosecutors did not say whether they still plan to bring Kelly to trial.
Known for his smash hit “I Believe I Can Fly” and sex-infused songs like “Bump n’ Grind,” Kelly has sold millions of albums even after allegations of girl abuse began circulating publicly in the 1990s . He beat child pornography charges in Chicago in 2008 when a jury acquitted him.
Widespread outrage over Kelly’s sexual misconduct didn’t surface until the #MeToo showdown and the release of the Lifetime docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly” in early 2019.
Foxx announced the Cook County charges months before the federal cases in New York and Chicago. Foxx’s office said he repeatedly sought out girls for sex, including one he met at her 16th birthday party and another who met Kellyr while she was on trial in 2008.
Federal prosecutors in New York told jurors at her 2021 trial that Kelly used her entourage of managers and assistants to meet young girls and keep them obedient, an operation prosecutors said amounted to a criminal enterprise.
Last year, prosecutors at Kelly’s federal trial in Chicago portrayed him as a master manipulator who used his fame and wealth to get star-struck fans, some of them minors, to sexually abuse them and then discard them. Four accusers testified.
While prosecutors in that case won convictions on six of the 13 counts against him in that case, the government lost the marquee count — which Kelly and his then-business manager successfully rigged in his 2008 child pornography trial .
Associated Press reporter Ed White in Detroit contributed to this story.
Follow Michael Tarm on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mtarm and find more information about AP’s coverage of R. Kelly’s trials at https://apnews.com/hub/r-kelly