R. Kelly sex-abuse charges officially dropped by Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx
CHICAGO - Four sexual abuse cases against R&B singer R. Kelly were dropped during a brief hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse Tuesday, as one of the alleged victims voiced her disappointment, saying "justice has been denied for me."
"I pleaded with Kim Foxx and her team to see the cases through," Lanita Carter said in a statement.
Instead, the state’s attorney decided to dismiss the charges four years after they were filed against the singer. In that time, Kelly has been found guilty in separate federal trials in New York and Chicago — leaving him facing the real possibility of spending the rest of his life behind bars.
Kelly did not attend the Tuesday morning hearing, but is expected to be present in a federal courtroom later this month in Chicago when he is sentenced on his conviction last fall for sexually abusing three girls and production of child pornography.
Kelly faces 10 to 90 years in prison in that case and is already serving a 30-year sentence for his 2021 conviction on racketeering and other charges in New York.
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The state charges were filed after State’s Attorney Kim Foxx publicly asked women who had been assaulted by the singer to come forward after the airing of the 2019 documentary series "Surviving R. Kelly."
On Monday, Foxx said she was dropping the state’s case against the singer because of the likelihood he would be serving lengthy prison terms, and that several of his alleged victims have already testified against Kelly in federal court.
Still, Foxx acknowledged her office had heard from at least one alleged victim who did not agree with the decision.
"I understand how hard it was for these victims to come forward and tell their stories," Foxx wrote in a statement Tuesday. "I applaud their courage and have the utmost respect for everyone who came forward. While this may not be the result they were expecting, due to the sentences that Mr. Kelly is facing, we do feel that justice has been served."
One of those alleged victims was Carter, identified in charging documents by the initials "L.C." She said she was assaulted by Kelly in 2003 — while the singer was on bond for child pornography charges — when she went to his house to braid his hair.
Carter immediately went to police and cooperated with investigators, but no charges were filed. Carter came forward again in 2019 after the "Surviving R. Kelly" documentary reignited public interest in the case.
"I chose to place my trust in her and her office, and I’ve spent nearly four years preparing myself — mentally and emotionally — to face my abuser and tell my story," Carter said in a statement. "Justice has been denied for me a second time, making today’s decision that much more difficult to comprehend and accept."
The cases would have served as a second chance for Cook County prosecutors to convict Kelly, who was acquitted of all charges in his 2008 trial on state child pornography charges.
Kelly’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, who had called for the charges to be dropped, said she was "pleased" with the decision after the hearing Tuesday and would set her sights on fighting to overturn Kelly’s conviction in New York.
"That is really our next battle," Bonjean told reporters, joined by several Kelly supporters who attended the hearing.
Former federal prosecutor Steven Block, who served as the head of the state’s attorney’s Special Prosecutions Bureau until 2018, said it was not unusual to drop a pending case when a defendant already has been convicted on other charges and handed a long prison sentence.
"It comes down to a decision on how to use resources," Block said. "The fact is, we know this is a defendant that is going to serve a long sentence. Another prosecution is not going to serve justice more than it already has been served."
Bonjean said Kelly is struggling in lockup at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, where she claimed he is a target for abuse by other inmates and correctional staff.
She accused administrators and staff at the jail of releasing music by Kelly without his permission, as well as his private information — including "possibly" his privileged communications with his defense attorneys.