Singer R. Kelly, facing sex abuse charges, gets $1 million bail

This booking photo obtained from the Chicago Police Department on February 23, 2019, shows singer R. Kelly. (AFP)
Updated 24 February 2019
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Singer R. Kelly, facing sex abuse charges, gets $1 million bail

  • Two women who had previously publicly accused him of abuse came to court to observe the proceedings

CHICAGO: A US judge set $1 million bail for R&B superstar R. Kelly on Saturday after prosecutors laid out graphic details of charges that he sexually abused four victims, three of them minors.
Kelly, known for hits like “I Believe I Can Fly,” surrendered to police late Friday after decades of allegations of sexual abuse, especially of underage girls, led to the first sexual assault charges against him.
Kelly was acquitted in a child porn trial more than a decade ago, and had maintained a steady fan base and continued to perform.
But his fortunes changed after a docuseries last month led Chicago prosecutors to publicly seek out any potential victims.
A Chicago grand jury on Friday charged him with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against four females, the youngest 14 years old at the time of the alleged crimes, which spanned between 1998 and 2010.
The charges carry three to seven years of prison per count.
A grave-faced Kelly appeared in a packed courtroom in a black hooded sweatshirt with his hands handcuffed behind his back.
Two women who had previously publicly accused him of abuse came to court to observe the proceedings.
In setting bail, Cook County Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr. ordered Kelly to have no contact with anyone under 18 years old, and to have no contact with any of the alleged victims or witnesses.
The singer also was required to relinquish his passport.
“He’s devastated,” Kelly’s attorney Steve Greenberg said. “Here is someone who at one point was a huge star. Now he is sitting behind bars.”

In the bail hearing, prosecutors offered new details of their case — including a shocking accusation that Kelly met one underage victim while giving autographs during his 2008 trial.
They described a video showing Kelly repeatedly having sex with a 14-year-old, DNA evidence from another victim’s shirt that they said matched Kelly’s and semen from yet another victim’s clothes that preliminary tests showed appeared to be his.
Prosecutor Kimberly Foxx told reporters that a witness, not publicly identified, had provided the video showing Kelly having oral and vaginal sex with the youngest girl sometime between 1998 and 2001, when he would have been in his early 30s.
“In the video,” the prosecutor said, “the victim repeatedly, repeatedly, says she is 14 years old.”
In 1998, Kelly allegedly met another girl at a restaurant where she was celebrating her 16th birthday party, invited her to his studio knowing her age, and had sex with her several times after that, each time giving her an envelope with “a large amount of money,” Foxx said.
In 2008, he allegedly met a girl who was under 17 years old while giving autographs during his criminal trial on child pornography charges, and had sex with her multiple times until 2010.
“At times, Robert Kelly would spit on her, slap her on her face and choke her,” the prosecution alleged in court.
Illinois outlaws sex with those under 17 when the partner is at least five years older. Kelly is now 52 and was 31 at the time of the earliest alleged abuse.
In the only case not involving minors, Kelly is accused of trying to force a 24-year-old hairdresser to provide him with oral sex in 2003. When she resisted, he “ejaculated onto the victim and spit in her face several times,” Foxx said.
DNA on the hairdresser’s shirt, tested by police, was found to match Kelly’s DNA profile, prosecutors said.

Although his bail was set at $1 million, Kelly needs to put up only a tenth that amount, or $100,000, to be let out of jail. But Kelly’s attorney was unsure when the singer would be able to pay.
“His finances are a mess,” Greenberg told the judge in court.
After the hearing, he told reporters Kelly would likely put up bail by Monday at the latest and poked holes in the prosecution’s case.
“He’s entitled to a presumption of innocence,” Greenberg said.
“He did not force anyone to have sex. He’s a rock star. He doesn’t have to have non-consensual sex.”
Kelly is next due in court Monday, at which time a trial judge will be assigned to his case. He is scheduled for a March 8 arraignment, when he will have an opportunity to enter a plea.
Allegations of child pornography, sex with minors and sexual battery have dogged Kelly for decades, yet he still managed to enjoy a successful music career.
The musician’s fortunes turned after last month’s broadcast of the docu-series “Surviving R. Kelly,” which once again brought accusations against him to the fore.
High-profile lawyer Michael Avenatti and prominent women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred are representing clients linked to Kelly.
Kelly married his protege Aaliyah in 1994, when the late R&B star was 15 and Kelly was 27. He had produced the teenage singer’s debut album titled “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number.”
Their marriage was later annulled, and Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001.


Avengers assemble for final battle in ‘Endgame’

Updated 24 April 2019
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Avengers assemble for final battle in ‘Endgame’

  • “Avengers: Endgame” is the final installment of a wildly ambitious 22-film arc featuring the beloved superheroes of the Marvel universe
  • Pundits are predicting a debut weekend that could break records with the first billion-dollar opening in history

LOS ANGELES: After nearly two dozen films and billions of dollars in ticket sales around the globe, the Avengers are gearing up for a final time — and their last adventure could shatter all box office records.
“Avengers: Endgame” is the final installment of a wildly ambitious 22-film arc featuring the beloved superheroes of the Marvel universe, many of them the creations of late comic book legend Stan Lee.
It hits theaters this week — parts of Asia and Europe get the first view of the three-hour epic on Wednesday, and it gets its wide release in the US and Canada on Friday. Pundits are predicting a debut weekend that could break records with the first billion-dollar opening in history.
That would easily beat out the previous record holder, “Avengers: Infinity War,” the first part of the “Infinity Saga” — as it was dubbed by Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige, who has produced every single movie in the franchise — which opened in 2018 with $640.5 million.
After Monday’s star-studded world premiere in Hollywood, the six original Avengers celebrated the end of the road Tuesday at the iconic TCL Chinese Theatre.
Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) assembled for a final time with Feige at the TCL Chinese Theatre, where they signed blocks of cement and marked them with handprints.
“It’s been an amazing ride,” Ruffalo — who attempted a handstand while waiting for the cement to set — said of the 10-year project.
The 21 preceding films have earned about $19 billion globally, and though “Endgame” marks the end of the current narrative arc, Marvel Studios is far from through.

Even as they mark the end of what Johansson called a “wonderful” experience, Marvel Studios has already announced several new projects: in addition to sequels for “Spider-Man,” “Black Panther” and “Doctor Strange,” there will also be “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” “The Eternals” and “Black Widow,” the second Marvel universe film to give a female character solo top billing.
“The fun thing about an ending is that you eventually get to do a new beginning,” Feige told AFP.
“So yes, there will be a new beginning, but right now, it’s about this combination of 22 movies. That’s what we’re most excited for.”
In preparation for the marvelous cinematic conclusion, “Endgame” directors Joe and Anthony Russo took to Twitter to post a letter to “the greatest fans in the world.”
“This is it,” they wrote. “This is the end. The end of an unprecedented narrative mosaic spanning eleven years and eleven franchises.”
They acknowledged the massive impact that the Avengers series has had on its fans, saying it was for “all of you who have been on this journey with us since the very beginning.”
Fans have been on the edge of their seats for the conclusion, and the cast has been notoriously tight-lipped during the press tour for fear of potential spoilers.
But someone couldn’t wait: on Sunday, five minutes of “Endgame” footage containing crucial plot points from the finale were anonymously posted online, prompting the Russo brothers’ letter.
The brothers concluded their message with an appeal: not to spoil the end of the movie.
“Remember,” the Russo brothers said, “Thanos still demands your silence. #DontSpoilTheEndgame.”