Singer R. Kelly sued for sexual battery, false imprisonment

Though R. Kelly has settled numerous lawsuits with women, he faced criminal prosecution for sexual misconduct only once. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (NYTimes) - A woman who says she was 19 when she began a relationship with R. Kelly sued the singer on Monday (May 21) in a New York City court, alleging sexual battery, false imprisonment and failure to disclose a sexually transmitted disease, according to the filing.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, was the latest in a steady pattern of sexual misconduct accusations against R. Kelly, 51, who has for two decades faced claims that he targets and abuses underage girls and young women, allegations that he has steadfastly denied.

Though Kelly has settled numerous lawsuits with women, he faced criminal prosecution for sexual misconduct only once, and was acquitted in 2008 of child pornography charges.

The #MeToo movement and a viral #MuteRKelly campaign have renewed interest in his career and personal life.

In the filing on Monday, Ms Faith A. Rodgers, a Texas woman, said she met the singer last March after he performed in San Antonio. Following a few months of phone contact, Kelly arranged for her to fly to New York, where he "initiated unwanted sexual contact" in a hotel room, according to the complaint, including "nonconsensual oral and vaginal intercourse".

The singer did not tell Rodgers, now 20, that he was infected with herpes - a criminal act - and she contracted the disease, the lawsuit says.

Rodgers remained in a relationship with Kelly for about a year, during which he "routinely engaged in intimidation, mental, verbal and sexual abuse, during and after sexual contact". According to the complaint, it was "behaviour designed to humiliate, embarrass, intimate and shame her".

Kelly also regularly recorded Rodgers without her consent during sex, she said, and often kept her locked in secluded areas to punish and control her.

"Unfortunately, the facts and background of this case are not unique," the lawsuit says, alluding to the recent reporting regarding a "sex cult" kept by Kelly. "This is a run-of-the-mill R. Kelly sexual abuse case." Representatives for Kelly, as well as for his label, RCA Records, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rodgers' lawyer Lydia C. Hills said her client was the same woman who filed a criminal complaint as Jane Doe in Dallas last month, alleging that Kelly had "knowingly and intentionally" given her herpes there. Dallas police at the time said that they were investigating; the department did not respond to a request for comment on Monday. Representatives for R. Kelly said in April that he "categorically denies all claims and allegations" regarding the Dallas complaint.

Hills said she could not speak to why the criminal and civil complaints were filed in different states, but said that the allegations in the lawsuit on Monday took place in New York. A lawyer for Rodgers in the criminal case, S. Lee Merritt, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Calls to boycott R. Kelly's music and concerts have intensified this month after the Time's Up organisation published an open letter backing the #MuteRKelly campaign and calling on his business partners to cut ties. On May 10, Spotify said it had removed the singer's music from its editorial playlists and would no longer promote it, a move the singer's team decried as part of an "ongoing smear campaign against him, waged by enemies seeking a payoff".

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