R. Kelly arrested on federal sex crime charges out of Chicago, New York

R&B star has strongly denied all allegations of sexual abuse, some of which date back to as early as 1998.

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By Jonathan Dienst and Phil Helsel

R&B star R. Kelly was arrested in Chicago on Thursday night in a sweeping new federal sex-crime prosecution, officials said.

Robert Kelly, 52, was taken into custody by New York police detectives and investigators from the Department of Homeland Security, law enforcement sources said.

A senior law enforcement official told NBC News that separate federal indictments were filed against Kelly in Chicago and Brooklyn. The arrest was first reported by NBC New York.

Kelly was arrested when he stepped outside to walk a dog and smoke a cigarette, a law enforcement official said.

Joseph Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago, told The Associated Press that Kelly was taken into custody about 7 p.m. Thursday.

He faces a 13-count indictment out of federal court in Chicago and five additional charges out of New York, according to court documents. The charges include racketeering, forced labor and sexually exploiting children.

Kelly engaged in "sexual activity with girls under 18 years old, engaging in and facilitating sexual activity without disclosing a sexually transmitted disease Kelly had contracted and producing child pornography," according to the New York indictment.

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Kelly is expected to appear in federal courtroom in Chicago on Friday afternoon.

A bail hearing for Kelly is expected to be held early next week, according to a statement Friday by the singer's defense lawyer, Steve Greenberg.

Greenberg said the new federal charges stem from "decades-old" allegations that "he was acquitted of" previously. The attorney didn't elaborate.

Kelly just wants to make "wonderful music and perform for his legions of fans that believe in him," according to Greenberg.

Homeland Security's investigations division and New York police declined to comment. Calls to the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, New York, weren't immediately returned.

Darrell Johnson, a crisis manager for R. Kelly, tried to defend his client at a press conference in Atlanta — but his meeting with reporters was interrupted by parents of Joycelyn Savage, who claim their daughter has been brainwashed and held by the singer.

"I want to know where my daughter is?!" dad Timothy Savage screamed, as he was held back from approaching Johnson.

Johnson said Joycelyn Savage and other women connected to R. Kelly are with him on their own free will.

"These are grown women, I'm not in charge of them," Johnson said. "I'm not a babysitter."

In a video released in May 2018, Joycelyn Savage denied she was being held against her will.

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Kelly has been the subject of sexual abuse allegations for almost two decades, some of them alleging acts as far back as 1998. He has vigorously denied the allegations.

Kelly was charged in Illinois in February with aggravated sexual abuse involving four women, three of whom were minors when the alleged abuse occurred. He pleaded not guilty.

Then, in May, he was charged with 11 more counts of sexual assault and sex abuse, according to court documents.

Allegations of sexual misconduct against Kelly gained renewed interest following the release in January of a six-part Lifetime documentary series, "Surviving R. Kelly," which detailed a number of women's claims that they were sexually, physically and mentally abused. Kelly denied all of those accusations.

In 2008, a Cook County, Illinois, jury acquitted Kelly of child pornography charges stemming from a video that prosecutors said showed him having sex with a girl as young as 13. The young woman denied that it was her in the video and didn't testify.

Alex Johnson and David K. Li contributed.