The recent public fallout from the explosive Lifetime documentary series "Surviving R. Kelly" that aired this month has left many confused about the legal reality of what is next for the singer. Most have confused the witness accounts in the documentary as an actual basis for prosecutors pursuing actual charges and the fact that whether R. Kelly is actually guilty or not does not mean that even if charges are ever brought he will actually ever be found guilty in court of law to face any penalties.
The documentary is full of accusations painting singer Robert Kelly aka R. Kelly as a manipulative sexual predator including physical, mental and sexual abuse of minors and adult women.
Since the fall out, Cook County in Chicago have received dozens of calls reporting abuse that they are currently vetting in their open investigation in addition to the ongoing investigation in Fulton County in Georgia where at least one victim and two families of victims have been contacted. However, these open investigations are not the same as charges. To date no new criminal charges have been filed against R. Kelly. His last charges (child pornography) were back in 2008, when he was acquitted after the infamous urination sex tape with the minor.
So what is preventing prosecutors from filing charges against Kelly? First and foremost, credible witnesses and victims have to first file a police report and report it as crime. Most of Kelly's alleged victims have either settled privately with him or are afraid to report him because he makes all the women he is involved with sign NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) with heavy penalties. Second, most of his alleged victims are from years ago which means they will lack any physical evidence to corroborate their claims which makes it more of a "he said, she said" case which is difficult when going after a celebrity. Moreover, the timing of them coming forward will most likely play into a credibility issues since their reports will be on the heels on a well publicized scandal following the release of the recent documentary. Prosecutors in both states are working diligently to sort through all the reports to verify what appear to be substantive allegations. Last but not least (and the most troubling), all of his alleged victims consented and all went to him on their own free will making kidnapping and false imprisonment hard to prove (both require "unlawful taking") and so these victims will have to either press charges for physical assault and or rape (including statutory rape). Currently, one victim is suing for assault for him allegedly giving her a STD (herpes). Even as of last week, his Trump Tower's condo was visited by the police (since his Chicago studio that was shown in the film was vacated after unpaid rent), after a police call was made that two women were being held hostage there. However, when the police arrived both of women claimed they were not being held against their will.
So with that being said justice for R. Kelly victims will only come when prosecutors in both states have multiple credible victims, witnesses and hopefully some physical evidence. Victims should not worry about the NDA's they signed since at this point because number one it will generate a lot of negative publicity for him and two his victims most likely do not have the money so him pursuing damages will appear to be him just being vindictive.
What are your thoughts on the various legal angles of the R. Kelly case? Should R. Kelly pursue defamation against Lifetime or pursue violations to his NDAs? How should prosecutors go about finding viable allegations from victims to file formal charges?
Stay tuned as this story develops...