The R&B singer R. Kelly was charged on Friday in Chicago with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse in connection with four victims, according to Cook County state’s attorney Kim Foxx.
Mr. Kelly, who has been trailed by accusations of sexual misconduct for two decades, has been under renewed scrutiny since the documentary “Surviving R. Kelly” was broadcast on Lifetime in January.
The celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti said last week that he had obtained a video showing Mr. Kelly having sex with a 14-year-old girl, and given it to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in Chicago. He has said that Mr. Kelly and the girl refer to her age multiple times in the video, which is more than 40 minutes long.
Steven Greenberg, Mr. Kelly’s lawyer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but he has said that Mr. Kelly “denies that he has engaged in any illegal conduct, of any kind whatsoever.” Aggravated criminal sexual abuse can carry a sentence of three to seven years in prison.
Mr. Kelly, 52, has never been convicted of a crime, but he has faced accusations of sexual misconduct and abuse for years. More than 20 years ago, Vibe magazine questioned a marriage certificate that said the singer Aaliyah was 18 when she and Mr. Kelly were wed. She was, in fact, 15 at the time and the marriage was annulled. Mr. Greenberg has said Mr. Kelly did not know she was underage at the time. Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001.
The following year, Mr. Kelly was arrested on child pornography charges, over a tape prosecutors said showed him having sex with and urinating on an underage girl. After six years of delays, Mr. Kelly was acquitted in 2008 on all 14 charges against him. The girl from the video never testified, and Mr. Kelly’s lawyers argued that her identity could not be proven.
In 2017, the music journalist Jim DeRogatis wrote articles for BuzzFeed that described Mr. Kelly keeping women in a “cult,” in which he separated them from their families and exerted tremendous control over their lives.
After so many years in which Mr. Kelly seemed impervious to the accusations against him, things seemed to take a turn in January, after “Surviving R. Kelly” caused a stir. Law enforcement authorities in Illinois and Georgia, where he has lived, began looking into his conduct. And after tremendous public pressure from activists, Mr. Kelly was dropped by his label, RCA, just two weeks after the program aired.