R. Kelly, who has been held in jail for multiple counts of sexual abuse, has pleaded not guilty to charges of racketeering and sex trafficking on Friday, The Associated Press reports.
During the hearing, Magistrate Judge Steven Tiscione denied Kelly bail, citing that the R&B singer would pose as a flight risk and danger to public safety. Kelly reportedly did not speak during the hearing except for when he greeted the judge and said that he understood his rights. His lawyer, Douglas Anton, entered his plea for not guilty.
Kelly is facing one count of racketeering and four counts of violating the Mann Act, which prohibits bringing people over state lines for prostitution. He has been accused of operating a “sex cult” where he recruited underage girls and forced them to engage in sexual activity across multiple states. Prosecutors are alleging that Kelly used his fame to lure these women into his life and then isolate them from their friends and family. Additionally, he allegedly had unprotected sex with a woman and gave her an STD without telling her, violating a law in New York. These charges are based on five victims, three of who were allegedly underage.
Anton called the charges against Kelly “absurd” and referred to the women as “disgruntled groupies.”
“If this was the ‘pattern’ or ‘enterprise’ the government seeks to make it out to be, [it] is five disgruntled groupies, not all of which are alleged to be under age, who now show groupie remorse so many years later,” he said in a filing made on Wednesday.
At this time, it is unknown if he will remain in New York or be forced to head back to Chicago.
These New York charges follow his charges in his hometown of Chicago, where he is also being held in prison without bond for seven charges relating to child pornography, five counts of enticement to a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity, and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice. Kelly and his lawyer also vehemently denied the Chicago charges.
This is the one of the latest setback in Kelly’s case; earlier last month, he was arrested and accused of paying off the family who was at the center of his 2008 trial revolving around child pornography charges. Then, last week, his crisis manager quit due to “personal reasons” after an interview with Gayle King showed him admitting that he would not allow his daughter to ever be alone in a room with Kelly.