R Kelly pleads not guilty to sex trafficking charges
R Kelly has pleaded not guilty to federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges in New York.
Prosecutors say the 52-year-old singer and his entourage invited women and girls backstage after concerts, kept them away from friends and family and made them financially dependent on him.
It is alleged Kelly controlled what they ate and when they went to the toilet, as well as demanding they called him “Daddy”.
Kelly’s lawyers said fans of the I Believe I Can Fly singer were “dying to be with him” and claimed the charges were a result of “groupie remorse”.
He was denied bail after prosecutors argued he posed a flight risk and was a danger to the community.
Kelly’s defence lawyers argued for bail so he could better fight the charges against him.
The R&B singer, who was wearing blue and orange prison clothes, greeted the judge and answered “yes” when asked if he understood his rights.
Kelly was otherwise silent.
A group of supporters gathered in the corridor outside the courtroom and packed the hearing once it began.
One of them, who gave her name as Glenda, said beforehand: “The only thing I’ve got to say is, ‘Free R Kelly’. We want justice.”
Kelly is charged with exploiting five victims, identified only as “Jane Does”.
They include one he met at one of his concerts and another at a radio station where she was an intern, according to court papers.
Prosecutors allege that Kelly arranged for some of the victims to meet him on the road for illegal sex.
They claim he had one victim travel to a show in Long Island in 2017, where he had unprotected sex with her without telling her “he had contracted an infectious venereal disease” in violation of New York law.
The singer’s lawyers said in court filings that the alleged victims sought his attention, went to his concerts and “pined to be with him.”
Kelly “would spend his time and even become friends with and care about these groupies and fans who were dying to be with him,” they added.
Kelly also faces child pornography charges in Chicago.