R. Kelly charged: A look back at key moments of the singer's life and career

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Sunday, February 24, 2019
TIMELINE: History of R. Kelly sex abuse allegations
Take a look back on the history of sex abuse allegations against singer R. Kelly.

CHICAGO -- R&B singer R. Kelly has been charged with aggravated sexual abuse involving multiple victims dating back to 1998, marking the latest charges against a man trailed for decades by lurid rumors. A timeline of his life and career:

Jan. 8, 1967

Robert Sylvester Kelly is born in Chicago to Joann Kelly, a school teacher. R. Kelly is third of four children and lives with his family in Chicago's housing projects. Little is known about his father.


At age 8, Kelly begins singing in church. Around the same time, his mother teaches him how Stevie Wonder sings by putting a nickel on the record player needle to slow down the revolutions. "So the runs could go really slow and then you learn them," Kelly told ABC News in 2004.


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.


At age 16, his mother moves the family from the projects and enrolls her son at the prestigious Kenwood Academy, a Chicago public school. Kelly meets his mentor, Lena McLin, who chairs Kenwood's music faculty. "She was my second mother. She made me feel I could do anything," Kelly told People in 1994.


At age 17, his music teacher places him in a local talent show to perform a version of "Ribbon in the Sky," a Stevie Wonder song. "That night it was like Spider-Man being bit. I discovered the power you get from being onstage," he told Newsweek in 1995. In the years that follow, he performs in Chicago's subway stations full time with his Casio keyboard, often pretending he's blind to avoid arrest.


R. Kelly's R&B group MGM wins the $100,000 grand prize on the syndicated television talent show, "Big Break," hosted by Natalie Cole. Because of money disagreements, that was the last time the group performed. Music executive Wayne Williams of Jive Records discovers Kelly singing at a barbecue that summer.


In January, R. Kelly & Public Announcement debut "Born Into The '90s." Released a year later, the album goes platinum.

R. Kelly tours on a 10-week, nationwide run later that fall that includes billings with En Vogue, CC Penniston and High Five.


His album "12 Play" is released in November and eventually sells more than 5 million copies. Hit singles include "Sex Me" and "Bump N' Grind," which becomes the longest-running No. 1 R&B song in more than 30 years.

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.

Aaliyah's debut album, "Age Ain't Nothing But A Number," which Kelly produces, becomes certified platinum in September. (Aaliyah died in a plane crash seven years later, at age 22.)


Kelly produces Michael Jackson's hit single "You Are Not Alone." Kelly also produces songs for Whitney Houston, Quincy Jones, Toni Braxton and Janet Jackson.


R. Kelly releases his third album, "R. Kelly" in November. 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.


In January, Hawkins' lawsuit is reportedly settled for $250,000, shortly after she gave a seven-hour deposition.

Kelly wins three Grammys a month later, including best R&B song and best male R&B performance, for "I Believe I Can Fly."

Kelly's album "R." hits stores in November. It has since sold 6 million copies.

November 2000

His album "TP-2.com" debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart.

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.


The Chicago Sun-Times reports on Feb. 8 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.

Kelly is indicted in Chicago on 21 counts of child pornography stemming from the sex tape on June 5, 2002. He pleads not guilty and is released on $750,000 bail.


Kelly is arrested in January 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.

The following month, Kelly's album "Chocolate Factory" is released, selling 538,000 copies in its first week.


In February, prosecutors in Chicago drop seven of the 21 child pornography charges against Kelly.

In November, Kelly files a $90 million lawsuit against Jay-Z and a promoter, claiming breach of contract and sabotage. Jay-Z kicked Kelly off their 40 city tour, citing Kelly's "unpredictable behavior."


Kelly's seventh solo album, "TP.3 Reloaded," hits No. 1 spot on the Billboard chart in July.

Andrea Kelly asked for an order of protection from her husband in September, accusing the singer of hitting her when she said she wanted a divorce. The couple reconciles. She says later they live in different homes.


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.


Kelly releases his album "Double Up," on May 29. It peaks at No. 1 on the Billboard albums chart.

In August, Chicago Judge Vincent Gaughan rules that jurors and the public will see the sex tape in open court, rejecting arguments from defense lawyers and prosecutors that it shouldn't be shown.

Following a five year delay, the trial is scheduled to start in September - but Gaughan postpones it until 2008. He doesn't explain why.

On Dec. 21, Gaughan decides not to revoke Kelly's bond after threatening to do so when the singer failed to show up at a hearing a few days earlier. Kelly was in the middle of a 45-city tour and said his bus had been held up by police for speeding in Utah.


Kelly's child pornography trial finally begins on May 9, 2008.

Kelly is acquitted on all counts after less than a full day of deliberations on June 13, 2008.

Jan. 8, 2009

Kelly and his former wife, Andrea, confirm they have divorced after 11 years of marriage.


Crain's Chicago Business reported in July that a $2.9 million foreclosure was filed by JPMorgan Chase bank against Kelly's suburban Chicago mansion. A spokesman claims the singer was not having financial trouble.


Kelly announced March 21 that he was reviving his cult classic video series, "Trapped in the Closet." The project began as five videos for his dramatic cliffhanger songs in 2007, and eventually grew to several dozen musical chapters dealing with a web of sexual deceit. Kelly teamed with IFC to premiere the old and new series, and performed the rap opera at event such as a sing-along at Bonnaroo. There was talk of a Broadway show.

On June 15, 2012, The Chicago Sun-Times reports Kelly owes the IRS more than $4.8 million in back taxes.

Kelly publishes his autobiography, "Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me," 12 days later, focusing on his creative and family life rather than his legal troubles.

In September, Kelly was nominated for two Soul Train Awards, making him the most nominated act ever at the awards show. After successful romantic albums "Write Me Back" and 2010's "Love Letter," Kelly vowed not to abandon the explicit music that helped make him famous. "Make no mistake about it, R. Kelly is not going anywhere. It's just that R. Kelly has such a unique talent, and I've been blessed to be able to do all type of genres of music ... I'm exploring my gift right now," Kelly told The Associated Press.


Kelly's custom-built mansion, once valued at more than $5 million, sells for $950,000 in a foreclosure auction on March 18.


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.


In February, Kelly was evicted from two Atlanta-area homes over more than $31,000 owed in unpaid back rent.

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 in April urging further investigation into Kelly's behavior, 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 canceled 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."

In May, 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. News outlets report that Apple and Pandora are also not promoting Kelly's music, though both companies haven't officially made announcements.

In the same month, 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.

An Atlanta-area property company sued Kelly in August for $203,400 over "extensive damage" to two homes he rented. An associate of Kelly's was previously accused of robbing the same homes in 2017. Kelly and the company settled for $170,000, but lawsuit says Kelly has only paid $20,000.


Lifetime airs the documentary "Surviving R. Kelly," which revisited old allegations against him and brought new ones into the spotlight on Jan. 3. 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."

Five days later, 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.

On Jan. 9, Lady Gaga apologizes 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 criticized 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.

Nielsen Music says streaming numbers for R. Kelly nearly doubled Jan. 10 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, 2019.

Faith Rogers said on Jan. 14 that 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.

On Jan. 21, Multiple media outlets report Kelly and his label, Sony subsidiary RCA Records, had parted ways. Lady Gaga and Celine Dion recently removed their duets with Kelly from streaming services, and French rock band Phoenix apologized for collaborating with Kelly in 2013. Kelly continues to deny all allegations of sexual misconduct.

By Feb. 1, 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.

Kelly announced by tweet a new tour outside the U.S. on Feb. 6, 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.

On Feb. 14, 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.

Kelly is charged with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse on Feb. 22. He is arrested after turning himself in to police later that day. The following day, a judge set his bond at $1 million, saying it amounts to $250,000 for each of the four people he's charged with abusing.