MINNEAPOLIS — The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office is charging R&B star R. Kelly with allegedly paying a minor $200 for a nude dance and sexual contact before one of his Minneapolis concerts 18 years ago.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said the incident occurred after Kelly was approached by a 17-year-old seeking his autograph. They later ended up in a hotel where there was sexual contact, but no intercourse.
Kelly, whose legal name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, was charged in Hennepin County District Court with two counts of engaging in, hiring, or agreeing to hire a minor to engage in prostitution.
It’s the latest in a string of legal charges against Kelly involving sex crimes against minors.
In response to the Hennepin County charges Monday Kelly’s attorney Steve Greenberg tweeted: “Give me a break. This is beyond absurd.”
Attorney Gloria Allred says she’s representing the minor in the case. In a press conference in Los Angeles, Allred said her client is not a prostitute. She said she was told the prostitution statute was the only one available to Minnesota authorities to charge Kelly in this case.
According to a criminal complaint released Monday, the accuser called a law enforcement tip line in January, saying she had engaged “in a sexual act” with Kelly when he was in Minneapolis for a concert in July of 2001.
She first had contact with Kelly, according to the complaint, when he was giving autographs to fans at a City Center pre-concert promotional event in Minneapolis. The autograph he gave her included his phone number.
Calling it, she was told to meet him at a Minneapolis hotel, which she did. One of Kelly’s employees met her in the lobby and brought her up to a suite.
Once there, Kelly agreed to pay her $200 for a dance, according to the complaint.
They then took off their clothes, and Kelly “laid on the bed and she climbed on top of him, body to body. Victim stated that she was positioned looking down towards the defendant’s feet as she danced. According to victim, the defendant was rubbing her body as well as fondling his erect penis. Victim stated that the defendant touched all over her body including her vagina and her breasts,” the complaint stated.
The woman told police she then left, and was able to attend the over-18 concert for free, as a guest, close to the stage.
The woman said she told her brother, who attended the concert, about the incident. The brother told police he saw her there and she told him she had danced for Kelly for money. He added that she looked uncomfortable and did not go into detail.
Freeman said during his press conference Monday that there was a phone conversation between the two after the concert and discussion of a possible meeting in Chicago, but after that Kelly’s phone number was disconnected.
Freeman said the two — brother and sister — were possibly too embarrassed to come forward until other recent victims of Kelly have come forward.
Freeman said that the three-year statute of limitations for such cases only applied if Kelly remained in the state, which he did not.
Kelly’s attorney, Chicago-based Greenberg, said in an interview Monday when asked about the charges: “Frankly, you’ve got a prosecutor who’s starving for attention and doesn’t quite understand with his role as a prosecutor comes a certain level of responsibility. It really is absurd.
“If you look at what happened, it’s absurd. … Some girl comes in and starts dancing and says he touched her? What’s she doing there dancing? It’s enough already.”
Greenberg also questioned the idea of applying underage prostitution charges after 18 years.
“The idea of a statute of limitations is after a certain amount of time, you don’t charge people. I’m not going to waste my time on that case at this point. Until he (Freeman) can get Mr. Kelly to Minnesota, I’m not going to burn one brain cell on him.”
Because Kelly is already in custody in New York on separate charges, Freeman wasn’t sure if he would be appearing in Minnesota.
In February, Kelly was indicted in Cook County, Ill., on ten counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse allegedly involving a total of four victims, three of whom are minors ranging in age from 13 to 16. The alleged crimes took place from 1998 to 2010.
Kelly, 52, pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Federal charges followed in July, with prosecutors in New York and Chicago charging Kelly with 18 additional counts, including child sexual exploitation and child pornography production, kidnapping and racketeering.
The federal indictments allege Kelly was the head of a “racketeering enterprise” that recruited women and girls to have sex with him illegally.
Kelly, in custody in New York, has been denied bail, and is expected to be transported to Chicago for court appearances there.
While others might question the Minnesota charges, Freeman said, saying the state is piling on additional charges, he doesn’t care.
“Frankly, the Minnesota victim deserves their day in court and that’s why we’re here,” Freeman said. “This kind of conduct simply is not acceptable in the state of Minnesota or anywhere else.”
This story contains information from the Washington Post.