In the past two weeks alone, R. Kelly has been arrested twice, charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse, become the subject of a new investigation in Detroit and participated in an eyebrow-raising multi-part interview with Gayle King. Kelly now sits in jail in Illinois, where until he pays $161,663 in child support.
But these new developments are just the tip of the iceberg for a man who has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct while tangling with the law and feuding with accusers for more than 20 years. Here’s a comprehensive timeline following R. Kelly’s troubled personal history and career.
April 1994: Commercial breakthrough
R. Kelly, 27, achieves mainstream success when his single “Bump n’ Grind” hits number one on the Billboard 100. A month later, his protégé Aliyah releases her debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number, which was almost entirely written and produced by him.
July 1994: R. Kelly marries Aliyah
As Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number climbs into the top ten on the R&B/Hip-Hop Album charts, Kelly secretly marries Aliyah in Chicago. But while the marriage certificate falsely lists her age as 18, she is actually 15. The marriage is reportedly annulled months later, and in May 1997, Aliyah files suit in Cook County seeking to have all records of the marriage expunged. She says she had cut off all contact with Kelly. When Kelly asked about the marriage reports in 2016, : “Out of respect for her mother who’s sick and her father who’s passed, I will never have that conversation with anyone.”
December 2000: The investigation begins
Jim DeRogatis, a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, publishes an article that reveals that Kelly was sued in 1996 by Tiffany Hawkins, an aspiring singer. Hawkins alleges that Kelly “engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct” with her in 1991, . Kelly countersues and later settles the initial lawsuit.
August 2001-May 2002: Allegations emerge
With Kelly established as a global superstar and the self-proclaimed “King of R&B,” a series of women sue Kelly for sexual misconduct. Tracy Sampson alleges that he had sex with her when she was 17 and Kelly “often tried to control every aspect of my life.” Patrice Jones claims Kelly coerced her into having an abortion, while Montina Woods claims Kelly taped her during sex without her consent. Kelly reaches settlements with all three women. The cases never go to trial; Kelly admits to no wrongdoing.
Around this time period, DeRogatis receives two videos that allegedly show Kelly having sex with underage girls. He turns them over to the Chicago police.
June 2002: Kelly indicted on child pornography charges
After the police examine the second video tape turned over by DeRogatis, they indict Kelly on 21 counts of child pornography. Kelly is arrested at his vacation home in Florida; he posts bail and pleads not guilty. He says it’s not him in the video.
July 2003: Arrested in Miami
While shooting a music video, Kelly is with 12 additional counts of child pornography after lewd photographs are found in his home. But two months later, a Florida judge says the photographs were illegally seized, and those charges are dropped.
February 2003: Kelly returns to the top of the charts
Kelly releases his fifth album Chocolate Factory, which features the single “Ignition (Remix).” Chocolate Factory debuts at number one, selling over 532,000 copies in its first week of sales.
2003-2008: Delays and postponements
A series of improbable events causes the trail to drag on for years. In 2006, Judge Vincent Gaughan and sustains injuries. The following year, Kelly undergoes emergency surgery for a burst appendix and the lead prosecutor gives birth, leading to more delays. A trial date is set for that September, but Gaughan postpones it once again.
July 2008: Kelly found not guilty
After one day of deliberations, Kelly is found not guilty on all counts. The girl believed to be on the tape refuses to testify, and jurors say that they cannot be certain of her identity.
2009-2017: Continued success
Kelly’s career continues in full force. Three more albums hit number one on the Billboard 200, and he is asked to perform at major stages and events, including Whitney Houston’s memorial service, the 2010 World Cup, the 2011 Grammy gala and Coachella 2013. He releases an autobiography in 2012.
July 2017: Buzzfeed publishes an exposé
DeRogatis publishes into Kelly’s wrongdoings, this time on Buzzfeed, which alleges that Kelly is keeping women against their will in an abusive “cult.” The women interviewed — described as “former members of Kelly’s inner circle” — say that Kelly lives with six women “controls every aspect of their lives: dictating what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep, and how they engage in sexual encounters that he records.”
says that the singer “unequivocally denies such accusations.” Jocelyn Savage, a woman whose parents told the police that she is being held captive, in which she denies being held against her will.
The piece spawns an activist hashtag, #MuteRKelly, online, as the #MeToo movement picks up steam.
May 2018: Another lawsuit
Faith Rodgers files a lawsuit against Kelly in New York that accuses the singer of sexual battery. She r through threats of retaliation.
A Kelly concert at the University of Illinois in Chicago due to protests, and his music is removed from Spotify’s playlists. The following month, he releases a 19-minute song called “I Admit” in which he denies many of the accusations against him.
January 2019: Surviving R. Kelly is released
Surviving R. Kelly, a six-hour docuseries on Lifetime, explores allegations against Kelly stretching back to the early 1990s. More than 50 interviews are conducted with siblings, journalists and accusers, who say that they were lured into sexual relationships with Kelly as underage girls and mentally and physically abused by him.
The series prompts Kim Foxx, the Cook County State’s Attorney, to make a public plea for accusers to come forward. Amidst protests both online and in person, Kelly is dropped by Sony music. Kelly’s lawyer in the documentary, saying, “It just didn’t ever happen.”
February 2019: Indicted again
Foxx indicts Kelly on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse in connection with four women, three of them underage. The lawyer Michael Avenatti says he turned in another tape to Foxx in which Kelly allegedly sexually assaults a minor. Kelly is arrested and then released on $100,000 bond; he pleads not guilty to the charges.
March 2019: Public denial and re-arrest
In an interview with Gayle King on CBS This Morning, which aired March 6, Kelly jumps out of his seat, screams and curses, yelling “I’ve been assassinated” and “I’m fighting for my f-cking life.”
The next day, CBS airs King’s interview with two women who live with Kelly. They deny that they are being held against their will and denounce their parents, who believe they are being brainwashed. Kelly himself is in the room for the interview, according to King.
The day that the first part of the interview airs, Kelly is arrested once again for failing to pay his ex-wife more than $160,000 in child support.
The same day, Detroit authorities open an investigation into a woman’s claims that Kelly had sex with her in 2001 in Detroit when she was 13 years old.