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Cook County State’s Attorney Drops Sex Abuse Charges Against R. Kelly
One of the four alleged victims disagrees with the state's attorney's assertions that "justice has been served" in light of the singer's federal convictions, telling reporters, "My case matters."
Prosecutors in Illinois have opted not to pursue sex abuse charges against embattled singer R. Kelly.
The 56-year-old performer, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, faced state-level charges for aggravated sexual assault and aggravated sexual abuse after the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office filed criminal charges in 2019.
However, due to Kelly’s previous federal sex abuse convictions in New York and Illinois, which came after the state pursued Kelly, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced Monday that her office intended to drop the charges.
Three of the four victims in the case were minors when the alleged abuse took place between 1998 and 2010, according to ABC Chicago affiliate WLS-TV.
“I understand how hard it was for these victims to come forward and tell their stories. I applaud their courage and have the utmost respect for anyone who came forward,” Foxx said in her press release. “While this may not be the result they were expecting, due to the sentences that Mr. Kelly is facing, we do feel that justice has been served.”
The case was officially dropped during a status hearing Tuesday morning, according to the ABC affiliate.
Foxx cited Kelly’s six-week federal trial in Brooklyn, where he was found guilty of nine criminal counts including the sexual exploitation of children, forced labor, and sex trafficking violations against the federal Mann Act, which included “the coercion and transportation of women and girls in interstate commerce to engage in illegal sexual activity.”
In June, Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Meanwhile, the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer is still awaiting sentencing for his September conviction, in which he was found guilty on three federal counts each of child pornography and child enticement.
“Kelly faces a minimum of 10 to 90 years in prison in the Illinois federal court,” according to Foxx.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said they invited potential victims to come forward in 2019, following the release of the Emmy-nominated Lifetime docu-series, “Surviving R. Kelly,” which told the stories of women making dozens of sexual abuse claims against Kelly.
The public appeal led to “hundreds of witnesses” coming forward in Chicago, New York, and Atlanta, according to Cook County officials.
One of the individuals who took the state’s attorney up on their invite was Lanita Carter, according to the Chicago Tribune. Carter said she was devastated by the state’s recent decision to drop charges.
In 2003, Carter, a then-24-year-old hairstylist, claimed Kelly — who was out on bond for child pornography charges — graphically abused her after she was hired to braid the singer’s hair. Although Carter went to the police following the alleged assault, charges weren’t filed until after the documentary’s release prompted officials to call victims forward.
Carter said she “pleaded” with prosecutors in November when she was informed the state planned to drop charges.
“My case matters,” Carter told the Tribune. “When they told me that I didn’t have a case in 2003, I said, ‘OK,’ and I tried to keep going. Now I come forward again after you call me to come forward. And now you’re saying it again.”
In Monday’s release, Foxx said that even though they’re no longer pursuing the case, they’re directing their resources “to find justice for other victims of sexual abuse who do not have the power of a documentary to bring their abusers to light.”
“I’ve still got to be positive, but I can’t help but say, this is some bull,” Carter said. “This is terrible for me. I’m upset. But I still have to find the silver lining, and I’ve still got to heal."
“At the end of the day, I’ve got to be able to walk away. But you know, it did not feel good,” Carter continued.
As for R. Kelly — who remains in federal lockup — he has expressed little relief since the state opted to drop the charges, his attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, told TMZ.
“There is no real sense of relief,” said Bonjean. “He is still fighting for his life. He is facing decades in prison.”
According to records from the Federal Bureau of Prisons reviewed by Oxygen.com, R. Kelly is currently housed at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago. He is scheduled for sentencing on Feb. 23.
Kelly maintains his innocence and is currently appealing his federal convictions.