Hennepin County charges R. Kelly in sex crime with teen in 2001

Singer R. Kelly is charged in crimes involving sexual contact with a teen
Singer R. Kelly is seen at Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago on June 6, 2019. Hennepin County prosecutors have charged the high-profile singer, alleging he had sexual contact with a girl, 17 years old at the time, who’d asked for his autograph during a Minneapolis stop.
E. Jason Wambsgans | Chicago Tribune via AP file

Updated 3:30 p.m.

Hennepin County prosecutors said Monday they’ve charged singer R. Kelly in crimes involving sexual contact with a teen who’d asked for his autograph during a Minneapolis stop in 2001.

Kelly, already under indictment for similar charges in Illinois, allegedly offered the girl — who was 17 years old at the time — $200 to dance naked with him in a hotel room, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said as he announced two counts against the singer, including engaging in prostitution with someone under 18 and offering to hire someone under 18 for sexual purposes.

According to Freeman, the girl was attempting in July 2001 to get an autograph from Kelly. He gave it to her along with a phone number and directed her to call. Freeman said the girl did and was later ushered up to Kelly’s hotel room by a Kelly staff member.

Mike Freeman stands at a podium with a microphone.
Hennepin County Attorney Freeman speaks at a press conference where he announced charges against R. Kelly on Monday inside the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis.
Evan Frost | MPR News
MPR News reporter Brandt Williams on R. Kelly charges in Hennepin County
by MPR

Kelly allegedly offered the girl the money to take her clothes off and dance. She did, he got naked, and they danced together, Freeman said, noting that afterward the girl got VIP seating at the singer’s concert. A statement by Freeman’s office later said Kelly groped the teen as she “danced over him” in bed.

Freeman said in January of this year, she contacted a tip line centered in Chicago and came forward with her story in light of the other allegations that have surfaced this year against the celebrity, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly. Investigators were able to confirm the story with her brother, who was at the 2001 concert and surprised to see his sister in the VIP section.

“This kind of conduct, particularly with juveniles, is simply not acceptable in Minnesota or anywhere,” Freeman said, adding that he suspected she and her brother didn’t come forward until this year because they were embarrassed about what happened.

Kelly, he added, is in custody in New York now and it’s unclear when he’ll come to Minnesota or if he’ll stand trial.

Steve Greenberg, Kelly’s attorney in the Chicago case, wrote on Twitter that Hennepin County’s decision to charge the singer was “beyond absurd.”

Watch: Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announces charges against R. Kelly