A Chicago prosecutor is dropping sex abuse charges against singer R Kelly, following federal convictions in two US courts that ensure the disgraced R&B star will be locked up for decades.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced the decision on Monday, a day ahead of a court hearing related to state charges accusing him of sexually abusing four people, three of whom were minors.
Ms Foxx said she would ask a judge to dismiss the charges at Tuesday’s hearing.
She acknowledged that the decision “may be disappointing” to women who stepped forward to accuse Kelly of crimes.
“Mr Kelly is looking at the possibility of never walking out of prison again … We believe justice has been served,” Ms Foxx said.
Since Kelly was indicted in Cook County in 2019, juries in Chicago and New York have convicted him of a raft of crimes, including child pornography, enticement, racketeering and sex trafficking related to allegations that he victimised women and girls.
Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, is serving a 30-year prison sentence in the New York case and awaits sentencing on February 23, in Chicago federal court.
He is appealing against those convictions.
Based on the New York sentence alone, the 56-year-old will not be eligible for release until he is around 80.
Another sexual misconduct case is pending in Hennepin County, Minnesota, where the Grammy Award-winner faces solicitation charges.
That case, too, has been on hold while the federal cases played out. Minnesota prosecutors have not said whether they still intend to take Kelly to trial.
Prosecutors sometimes choose to go ahead with more trials out of a concern that convictions elsewhere could be reversed during appeals. They see an opportunity for additional convictions as insurance.
Known for his smash hit I Believe I Can Fly and for sex-infused songs such as Bump N’ Grind, Kelly sold millions of albums even after allegations about his abuse of young girls began circulating publicly in the 1990s.
He was acquitted by a jury of child pornography charges in Chicago in 2008.
Widespread outrage over Kelly’s sexual misconduct did not emerge until the #MeToo movement and the release of the Lifetime docuseries Surviving R Kelly.
After that series aired in early 2019, Ms Foxx pleaded with accusers to come forward so prosecutors could pursue charges.
She announced the Cook County indictment months before the federal cases in New York and Chicago.
Ms Foxx’s office alleged he repeatedly sought out girls for sex, including one he encountered at her 16th birthday party and another who met the R&B star while he was on trial in 2008.
Federal prosecutors in New York told jurors at his 2021 trial that Kelly used his entourage of managers and aides to meet girls and keep them obedient, an operation that prosecutors said amounted to a criminal enterprise.
Last year, prosecutors at Kelly’s federal trial in Chicago portrayed him as a master manipulator who used his fame and wealth to reel in star-struck fans, some of them minors, to sexually abuse then discard them. Four accusers gave evidence.
While prosecutors in that case won convictions on six of the 13 counts against him in that case, the government lost the count that Kelly and his then-business manager successfully rigged his 2008 child pornography trial.