R Kelly pleads not guilty again

The disgraced singer's arraignment on various new sexual abuse charges took place via telephone conference on Thursday due to the coronavirus pandemic.

FILE: R&B singer R Kelly leaves the Cook County jail after posting $100,000 bond on 25 February 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Picture: AFP

LONDON - R. Kelly pleaded not guilty to further abuse charges in a telephone conference hearing on Thursday.

The disgraced singer's arraignment on various new sexual abuse charges took place via telephone conference on Thursday due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the _Ignition _hitmaker calling into the hearing from the Chicago jail where he is currently being detained.

Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak asked him: "I take it, sir, you do understand English?"

He replied: "Yes, ma'am."

Kelly again spoke to confirm he was waiving his right to appear in court in person.

The 53-year-old singer's lawyer confirmed they would "enter a plea of not guilty to all of the charges", while another member of his legal team said the jail had an "additional new medical report" and were hoping to get a copy.

The nine-count indictment - which was filed on 12 March - relates to claims of alleged racketeering and sexual abuse and said a minor female and an adult woman - referred to as Jane Doe #5 and Jane Doe #6 - were exposed to herpes when Kelly "engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse" with them.

The I Believe I Can Fly singer is accused of "not first informing" the minor "that he had contracted herpes and obtaining her consent to sexual intercourse in these circumstances".

The adult partner "ultimately learned that she had contracted herpes during the course of her relationship with the defendant."

The racketeering charges allege Kelly - who has been held without bond since last July - identified underage fans at his concert and groomed them for later abuse.

He also faces charges in Chicago for allegedly conspiring with manager Derrel McDavid and former employee Milton 'June' Brown to rig his 2008 child pornography trial by paying off witnesses to change their stories, as well as paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to retrieve child sex abuse tapes before prosecutors saw them.

In addition, charges are pending in Minnesota, which allege Kelly solicited a teenage autograph hunter in 2001, and he's been charged in four separate indictments in Cook County alleging he sexually assaulted or abused four women, three of whom were underage at the time.

He has pleaded not guilty to all allegations against him.