BROOKLYN, NY — A Brooklyn judge denied R. Kelly bail Friday as the singer pleaded not guilty to federal sex-trafficking and racketeering charges. U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven Tiscione ordered the disgraced R&B artist to stay locked up while he faces separate criminal cases in New York and Chicago, court records show.
Kelly pleaded not guilty to the five charges that federal prosecutors in Brooklyn brought against him three weeks ago, when they accused him of running a tightly controlled enterprise of sexual abuse and coercion dating back two decades.
Kelly’s legal team said it would ask U.S. District Judge Ann M. Donnelly to re-examine Tiscione’s decision to deny bail for the singer, according to Tyler Daniels, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Kelly is due back in court for a conference on Oct. 2
Tiscione ruled that Kelly should be locked up while he awaits trial over his lawyer’s objections that he posed no danger to the public and there is “zero” evidence of his guilt. The lawyer, Douglas C. Anton, also argued that the case stemmed from “groupie remorse.”
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The singer, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, would have remained behind bars regardless of Tiscione’s decision because a Chicago federal judge had already ordered him detained in the separate federal case there.
Prosecutors say Kelly leaned on his fame to draw women and girls into his criminal circle, which operated in New York, Connecticut, Illinois, California and elsewhere. He had his associates arrange sexual encounters with the victims and maintained strict rules over their behavior, such as forcing them to call him “Daddy,” according to prosecutors.
The Brooklyn indictment charges Kelly with racketeering and violations of the Mann Act, a federal anti-sex trafficking law. He faces up to 70 years in prison if convicted.
Kelly has faced accusations for years that he lured women and girls into a sort of cult, isolating them from their families and subjecting them to physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Such allegations were at the center of “Surviving R. Kelly,” a Lifetime documentary series that led RCA Records, Kelly’s longtime record label, to drop him from its roster.