AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Allegations of sexual abuse have trailed R&B superstar R. Kelly for more than two decades. Today in Chicago, those claims caught up with him.
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KIMBERLY FOXX: Earlier today, Robert Kelly was indicted before a Cook County grand jury on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four victims.
CORNISH: That's Kimberly Foxx, the state's attorney for Cook County, at a news conference. She said the alleged incidents date back to 1998, and several of the victims were underage. A warning here - some listeners may find the nature of this conversation disturbing. We're going to bring in NPR's Colin Dwyer now to talk more about these charges. Colin, what more did we learn from prosecutors at the news conference?
COLIN DWYER, BYLINE: Well, the news conference was a very straightforward affair. Kimberly Foxx briefly, very bluntly laid out the charges against Kelly. She didn't take any questions afterward. Frankly, the entire thing couldn't have taken more than five minutes. But we did learn something about the crimes that he's been accused of. The 10 counts cover four different individuals. The earliest of those counts relate to incidents between 1998 and '99, and the most recent allegedly happened as recent as 2010. Foxx said that in three of those cases, the victims were under the age of 17. Now, it should be mentioned each count is considered a class 2 felony in Illinois, and that means each one of them could carry up to seven years in prison.
CORNISH: R. Kelly has been accused of sexual misconduct with underage girls for many years now, and this is not the first time he's faced charges. Give us the background.
DWYER: No, it isn't. In fact, as you mentioned, they date back more than two decades, these allegations, back to his very brief marriage with his protege, Aaliyah. She was 15 at the time. He was 27. That marriage was quickly annulled. But years later in 2002, he was charged with more than a dozen counts of child pornography related to a video involving an underage girl. That case actually took six years to go to court, at which point Kelly was acquitted on all counts. But at every step of the way, Kelly has steadfastly denied that he hasn't done anything wrong.
CORNISH: Is it thought that this is the result, then, of the new documentary that's out about R. Kelly? It includes interviews with many of his accusers.
DWYER: I think that's part of it. So you're referring to the docuseries Lifetime - or the Lifetime docuseries "Surviving R. Kelly," and I think that's part of it. A number of women came forward on record with their experiences. But I think you can actually trace it back a couple of years to 2017 when BuzzFeed published an investigation alleging that he led something of a cult of young women around him.
But since the docuseries "Surviving R. Kelly" was released earlier this year, the drumbeat has just gotten louder. A number of his former collaborators have disavowed him. That includes Lady Gaga. And he was also dropped by his record label. And even yesterday, two more women came forward against him alleging abuse that dated back to the '90s.
CORNISH: Getting back to the news of the day, what's going to happen next?
DWYER: Well, we know one thing for sure, and that is that R. Kelly is scheduled for a bond hearing tomorrow in Chicago. And he has already turned himself in tonight. Beyond that, though, it's kind of tough to say. Kelly and his legal team have made quite clear that they intend to fight this thing. And remember; the last time that this happened, the case took six years to go to trial. So we might be following this thing for quite some time.
CORNISH: That's NPR's Colin Dwyer. Colin, thank you.
DWYER: Thank you, Audie.
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