CHICAGO — Recording artist Robert Sylvester Kelly, also known as “R. Kelly,” was arrested Thursday following his indictment on federal child pornography and obstruction charges.
This indictment was announced by the following agency heads: U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch Jr., Northern District of Illinois; Special Agent in Charge James M. Gibbons, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Tara Sullivan, Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division. Cook County (Illinois) State’s Attorney’s Office and Chicago Police Department provided substantial assistance.
Kelly, 52, of Chicago, was arrested the night of July 11.
“This arrest serves as a reminder of HSI’s commitment to protecting the most vulnerable members of our society – our children,” said Special Agent in Charge Gibbons. “We will continue to work in partnership with our fellow law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to bring to justice anyone who sexually exploits children.”
A 13-count indictment returned July 11 in U.S. District Court in Chicago charges Kelly with producing and receiving child pornography, and enticing minors to engage in criminal sexual activity.
The indictment accuses Kelly of engaging in sex acts with five minors and recording some of the abuse on multiple videos.
The indictment also charges Kelly with conspiring to intimidate victims and conceal evidence in an effort to obstruct law enforcement, including an investigation in the 2000s that resulted in his trial in 2008 in Cook County on state child pornography charges.
Kelly was indicted on the following charges:
one count of conspiracy to receive child pornography,
two counts of receiving child pornography,
four counts of producing child pornography,
five counts of enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity, and
one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice.
The indictment also charges the following two former employees of Kelly’s music business:
Derrel McDavid, 58, of Chicago (one count of conspiracy to receive child pornography, two counts of receiving child pornography, one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice), and
Milton Brown, also known as “June Brown,” 53, of Chicago (one count of conspiracy to receive child pornography).
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Angel Krull, Abigail L. Peluso and Jeannice W. Appenteng, Northern District of Illinois, are prosecuting this case.
A separate federal indictment was also unsealed in the Eastern District of New York charging Kelly with racketeering for allegedly operating a criminal enterprise that promoted Kelly’s music and recruited women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity.
Kelly is an award-winning recording artist and record producer who has operated various music businesses in Chicago.
According to the indictment in the Northern District of Illinois, Kelly met the five victims in the late 1990s. Kelly engaged in sex acts with the victims while they were all under the age of 18, and he created numerous explicit videos with four of them, the indictment states.
The charges allege that Kelly and McDavid in 2001 began paying an acquaintance hundreds of thousands of dollars to collect the videos for the purpose of concealing and covering up their existence.
When the acquaintance later planned to hold a news conference to publicly announce that he recovered the videos, Kelly, McDavid and others paid him about $170,000 in exchange for agreeing to cancel the event, the indictment states.
Kelly and McDavid also agreed to pay one of the minors and another individual for their efforts to return the videos, but only after they took polygraph examinations to confirm they returned all copies in their possession, the charges allege.
The indictment seeks forfeiture of a personal money judgment of about $1.55 million.
The public is reminded that charges contain only accusations and are not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Producing child pornography carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of 20 years.
Receiving child pornography and conspiring to receive child pornography are each punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum of 20 years.
The maximum sentence for enticing a minor is 10 years.
Conspiracy to obstruct justice is punishable by up to five years.
If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
If you believe you are a victim of sexual exploitation by Robert Sylvester Kelly, you are encouraged to contact HSI’s confidential tip line by calling 1-866-DHS-2-ICE (1-866-347-2423) or its online tip form. The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 19,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child exploitation material, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2018, more than 3,000 (3,191) child predators were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 850 (859) victims identified or rescued.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI’s Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page. HSI is a founding member of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.