R. Kelly Pleads Not Guilty to Sex Trafficking Charges in New York
R. Kelly pleaded not guilty to charges of racketeering and sex trafficking in a Brooklyn federal court Friday, The Associated Press reports.
Magistrate Judge Steven Tiscione also denied Kelly bail, saying he posed a flight risk and a danger to public safety. It is unclear whether Kelly will remain in New York, or be taken back to Chicago, where he also being held in prison without bond following a federal indictment there that included seven charges related to child pornography, five counts of enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice (he also pleaded not guilty).
During his hearing Friday, Kelly was silent except for when he greeted the judge and said that he understood his rights. A lawyer for Kelly, Douglas Anton, entered the not guilty plea.
In New York, Kelly faces one count of racketeering and four counts of violating the Mann Act, which prohibits transporting people over state lines for the purpose of prostitution. Kelly is accused of operating a criminal enterprise that recruited women and underage girls to engage in illegal sexual activity across several states.
Prosecutors alleged that Kelly used his fame to recruit women and often isolated them from friends and family in order to control every aspect of their lives. They claim Kelly also arranged for women to meet him while he was traveling for illegal sex, while he also allegedly had unprotected sex with one woman without telling her had contracted an infectious venereal disease, which is reportedly a violation of New York law.
The New York indictment is based on charges leveled by five victims, all of whom were identified as “Jane Doe” and three of whom were allegedly underage.
Reuters also reported that Anton, in a filing made on Wednesday, called the charges against Kelly “an absurdity” and the accusers “five disgruntled groupies.” He added that the women who did have sex with Kelly were “dying to be with him.”
“If this was the ‘pattern’ or ‘enterprise’ the government seeks to make it out to be, [it] is five disgruntled groupies, not all of which are alleged to be under age, who now show groupie remorse so many years later,” he wrote.
Gloria Allred, who is representing three of the alleged victims in New York, called Anton’s filing “unusual,” adding, “Whether he intended to or not, he’s now given the prosecution a preview of what his defense may be. If that’s all he’s got, I think he’s going to have major challenges in this case.”