case analysis for r kellyGrammy Award-winning singer Robert Sylvester Kelly, better known as R. Kelly, is facing a mountain of federal charges. He was arrested in July on separate indictments from the Northern District of Illinois and the Eastern District of New York. The Northern District of Georgia could be next since the singer lived in Metro Atlanta where some of the alleged crimes took place.

In Illinois Federal Court, Kelly is charged with:

  • Producing and receiving child pornography
  • Enticing minors to engage in criminal sexual activity

The charges accuse Kelly of engaging in sex acts with five minors and recording some of the abuse on multiple videos. The indictment also charges Kelly with conspiring to intimidate witnesses in his 2008 Chicago trial on state child porn charges.

The New York Federal Court case is even more serious. Kelly is charged with:

  • Racketeering predicated on criminal conduct including:
    • Sexual exploitation of children
    • Kidnapping
    • Forced labor
    • Mann Act Violations including the coercion and transportation of women and girls in interstate commerce to engage in illegal sexual activity.

Kelly is also accused of knowingly exposing at least one woman to a sexually transmitted disease without her knowledge.

In a last-ditch effort to secure bail, Kelly’s lawyer unsuccessfully lobbied the judge by saying the singer isn’t a flight risk because he is broke. The judge disagreed. Kelly is being held without bond at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago.

Why Federal Charges?

Most sex crimes are matters of state law and prosecuted by the state.  Here are the factors that made the case against Kelly a federal one:

Child Pornography

Federal jurisdiction is extremely broad when it comes to child pornography. Federal law prohibits the production, distribution, reception, and possession of an image of child pornography using or affecting any means or facility of interstate or foreign commerce. This includes using U.S. Mail or common carriers to transport child porn across state or international borders. Additionally, federal jurisdiction almost always applies when the Internet is used to commit a child pornography violation. The reason is because federal law may be implicated if the materials, such as a computer used to download the image or the media used to store the image, originated or previously traveled in interstate or foreign commerce.

The Mann Act

The Mann Act is a federal law that outlaws prostitution and unlawful sexual activities when they involve interstate or foreign travel. In 1978, Congress expanded The Mann Act to prevent the commercial exploitation of all children, not just girls. It was expanded again in 1986 to criminalize noncommercial exploitation, such as transporting children for child pornography, whether or not the production was for commercial purposes.

Kelly is charged with violating The Mann Act by transporting a victim between states and violating New York law by recklessly endangering the victim. He is accused of violating other parts of The Mann Act by coercing or enticing a child to engage in unlawful sexual activity and of transporting a child in interstate commerce for similar reasons.


Racketeering is when a person or organization engages in a pattern of illegal activity, often involving extortion or coercion of others. Why is R. Kelly accused of racketeering? Prosecutors say the singer recruited minors at concerts so he could groom them, indoctrinate them into his alleged “sex cult,” and abuse them.

The R. Kelly sex case saga is far from over.

If you know someone who has been a victim of the sex trade, experienced trial attorney Pat McDonough can help them find justice. Mr. McDonough seeks civil justice by going after hotels and motels. There are no costs to survivor. Reach out for your free, 100% confidential, consultation.