Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Musician R. Kelly Has Been Indicted; Patriots Owner Robert Kraft Charged with Soliciting Sex. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired February 22, 2019 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: I'm Brooke Baldwin. You are watching CNN, and R. Kelly -- that's where we're starting. Sources tell CNN that R. Kelly, the Grammy Award-winning musician and R&B star, has been indicted by the Cook County District Attorney's office. We will learn many more details, but this moment a grand jury was convened in Cook County, Illinois, this month why relation to the charges against r. Kelly. This after Michael Avenatti said he had given the attorney's office a videotape that showed Kelly having sex with an underage girl who refers to her body parts as only -- as 14 years of age. The latest videotape surfaced some 17 years after Kelly was first arrested in a child pornography case in 2002. A case in which he was acquitted six years later. Today's indictment, the news, coming weeks after a devastating lifetime documentary called "Surviving R. Kelly." it is a series that spotlighted so many women including the singer's ex-wife who alleged that they suffered physical, emotional, and sexual abuse at the hands of this star. So, Sara Sidner, as we wait to get our hands on this indictment, tell me what you know.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a stunning development in a case that certainly over decades as you have mentioned, there have been accusations against r. Kelly when it comes to his alleged allegations about how he acts and what he does with underage girls. There have been settlements that have been made with women who have accused him of having sex with them when they were minors. There was the -- basically the marriage to singer Aaliyah when she was 15 according to records, that was later annulled by her family. Now you have this. In 2008, you talked about the fact that he was indicted in 2008. He was put on trial then, and he was acquitted. Part of that trial involved a videotape, a videotape that prosecutors said showed a girl who was 13 years old or 14 years old, and R. Kelly, they said, was on that tape doing -- having sexual intercourse, doing sex acts with this girl, and that it was being recorded by R. Kelly. He was charged with 14 counts of child pornography. He was acquitted mostly because a jury decided they could not positively identify beyond a reasonable doubt the girl on the tape, nor could they positively identify R. Kelly. That tape was not of great quality. We are learning from two sources now and now have confirmation of what we reported first which is r. Kelly has been indicted. I want to read you this because it just was handed to me. The state's attorney -- state's attorney has come out and announced that there will be charges against Robert Kelly, his name is Robert Sylvester Kelly. That is R. Kelly, the R&B singer that everyone around the world knows of. She is going to be having a press conference later this afternoon. We are still waiting to find out exactly what those charges are. Wean that they have something to do with the grand jury that had been convened. We learned and reported that that grand jury had been convened last week. And it has been going on since then. There have been days of this. There have been people, according to our sources, who have been coming in and out of the grand jury, witnesses have been coming in and out of that grand jury. We know that one of the witnesses we believe is someone who has been called a whistleblower who has information on r. Kelly and the workings of the group around R. Kelly. There are accusations about a new tape that we learned of and reported on last week. That new tape handed over by attorney Michael Avenatti who says on that tape there is indeed a 14-year-old girl or a minor who is involved in sex acts with R. Kelly. And that he is very visible and clear on that tape. So, all of these things have come together now, and now we are seeing officially from the state's attorney's office, Kim Fox says a charging announcement will happen in the next hour or two.

BALDWIN: All right. So that's all the reporting. We're waiting to get the information. We'll watch for this press conference in the next hour. For people just tuning in, they know R. Kelly, they know some of his music, maybe they haven't watched this extraordinary lifetime series, "Surviving R. Kelly." I've seen it. I'm sure you have. Can we back up five steps to many years ago when he was sort of coming into his fame, you know, and the whole thing begins with how he would cruise high schools. And a little bit -- can you give us a little bit of the beginnings of R. Kelly and how this all allegedly began?

[14:05:08] SIDNER: Right. That's why this is so stunning because there have been allegations literally for decades concerning r. Kelly. Decades. And we should mention that, you know, some of the women that came out in this "Surviving R. Kelly," basically it was a lot of women who had come out to say they were abused, brainwashed, or had had sex with him when they were minors, and they felt -- you know, they are saying, look, we are victims of r. Kelly. That's why the series was called "Surviving R. Kelly," because they feel they are survivors of abuse and of sexual misconduct on the part of R. Kelly. What you learn -- Kelly. What you learn is there are women out there coming forward now, all these years later after he was indicted, after all the allegations went on over the past couple of decades when it comes to R. Kelly. We should be very clear that his attorney has said in the very beginning, we have not heard from him today, but in the very beginning when we asked him about this particular videotape, this newly uncovered videotape, we learned from him that he had no knowledge of it. That he had not heard anything from law enforcement, that he had not been contacted by law enforcement. That he was unaware of anything, and he called hogwash on the information. Now fast forward a week. And now the state's attorney saying we are indicting R&B singer R. Kelly. That he is being indicted and being indicted today. So, this is a stunning turn of events. I have just spoken with the producer of that series, "Surviving R. Kelly," Tamera Simmons. She responded with no words at first. She took a deep breath and said, "I have been waiting for so long. I have lived with this and listening to these survivors' stories, and I have been waiting for so long."

BALDWIN: Yes, yes. SIDNER: And the survivors, the women who have come out and accused r.

Kelly of sexual misconduct with them when they were minors, I spoke to one of them. She says, I just -- all I want is for justice to be done, and this to never happen to someone else. Again, R. Kelly has been clear over the years -- and he was acquitted in his 2008 trial -- he says he has not done anything illegal with minors at all. Brooke?

BALDWIN: Sara Sidner, you have been phenomenal on this. We won't let you go too far. As soon as you get more, we'll bring you back on. We've been talking about the docu-series, the news is he's been officially indicted. Jamilah Lemieux, former senior editor at "Ebony" magazine, and Joey Jackson with her, one of our all-star lawyers here at CNN. I have been wanting to talk to you. Do you have words for this?

JAMILAH LEMIEUX, FORMER SENIOR EDITOR AT "EBONY" MAGAZINE: YOU know, I, too, am a little bit speechless. We have waited for so long. I'm trying not to cry. I grew up in Chicago. Some of those girls were my peers. We were in high school when that first tape was recorded. To have heard the stories for years, years. To juxtapose that with Jussie Smollett being charged in a matter of days, right. It didn't take that long to figure out that maybe something wasn't right with this story allegedly, that we've been asking for decades to pay attention to the stories of these black girls --

BALDWIN: Why do you think it took so long?

LEMIEUX: Because they were black. His victims, accusers, have been black girls, not class mobile black girls, not famous black girls. Black girls from the south side of Chicago, black girls from communities like that across the country. We have been told over and over that his musical talent, his fame, his manhood mattered more than what he's been accused of doing is on so many little girls, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19 -- this man is over 50 years old. It's just -- it's devastating that it's taken this long, but I'm glad that we're here today.

BALDWIN: I want to come back to you. Joey Jackson, I know --

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Wow.

BALDWIN: This has been decades in -- I see your eyes. I see the tears welling. And you know, for you on the legal piece of this. People want answers. We need facts, right. We live in a place, we can't jump to any conclusions, but we are going to see this indictment. We're going to hear from prosecutors in the next hour. What will this indictment tell us?

JACKSON: Let's talk about the process. First of all, an indictment, we should be clear, is an accusation. You assemble 16 people in a grand jury room, there's no judge. A prosecutor presents evidence to a grand jury. There's no defense attorney, there's no cross- examination. The witnesses are not voted. They give their -- are not vetted. They give their story. If 9 of 16 vote that it should move forward, it's voted out. A grand jury's not deciding guilt or innocence. [14:10:00] They're deciding two things -- is there reasonable cause to

believe that a crime was committed, and did R. Kelly commit that crime? And so, an indictment, even though it's an accusation, is highly significant because you have a group of people in the community who have determined that it can move on to the next phase. And at that next phase, it will be critical and that's when it will be tested, and on the issue of testing, apparently, the indictment is predicated largely on a video that was provided.

We have to be careful and cautious as to a videotape. Where did the videotape come from, what is the chain of custody? That is, how many sources did it go through? Was it edited in any way? Was technology superimposed in any way? We have been down this line before, so we need to be cautious. What am I referring to? In 2002 when a case was brought forward, they had a videotape then. Apparently not as clear as this videotape. But they had two problems.

Number one, suggesting that the person on the tape was R. Kelly. Apparently, it clearly appears to be him here, but was there -- you know, any foul play involved in making of the videotape. The second issue they had was the victim. The victim did not testify in the first case. We're going to be looking to see if they do. There are other problems, and that relates to the statute of limitations. Apparently, we're told on the issue of statute of limitations, what does that mean? You have a certain amount of time to bring forward charges. There are 37 states in addition to the federal government that have no statute of limitations on minor sex. Let's be clear about this -- a lot of those statutes came after r. Kelly's conduct. At the time at issue, it was a 20-year statute of limitations. That means you have if you're a minor 20 years from when you're 18 to bring forward charges. So, we have to look and see when the videotape, what's the origin and how many years, how old was the victim, and if the victim is over 38 years old, it presents a problem out of the box.

BALDWIN: Just when you think back in that -- it was 14 counts of child pornography when he was acquitted in 2008, the whole trial centered on that sex tape. We're talking about a totally separate tape involving this 14-year-old young woman in which they refer to her 14-year-old genitalia multiple times. She does. Allegedly he does, as well. Jamilah, back to you. It's almost like -- again, when you watch "Surviving R. Kelly," and I was talking to Sara, it begins with him cruising these high schools and talking to these young girls. And so much of this allegedly happened in plain sight.

LEMIEUX: You know, I constantly refer back to Aaliyah, the late singer's first album, which was produced by r. Kelly. It's called "Age Ain't Nothing But A Number." She is 14 at the time this picture would have been taken. He's 27. And he's in the background looking at her. He's in every music video. They're wearing matching outfits. They're doing interviews in matching outfits, being coy about their relationship. Saying we're best friends, you know, a lady never tells when she's asked about her age. This is someone who was 15 years old on this press run, "In Plain Sight." the hit records were crafted -- not just the suggestion, not just looking back it seems like you're ready, perhaps that's cajoling a younger woman into doing something she's not ready to do. This was clearly saying age isn't nothing but a number. Here I am with a beautiful teenaged girl. What are you going to do about it? For 30 years, the answer has been from the community, from the music industry, and from various law enforcement agencies we're not going to do anything.

BALDWIN: And he's denied, denied, denied through the years. He was acquitted in 2008. How did so many of these women have such access to him as he blew up?

LEMIEUX: He went looking for them. He went looking for them. Again, these were girls. Most of them were teenage girls. Most of the accusers, at the point in which they met him for the first time. So, he's going up to his alma mater, you know, his high school. He's going to the McDonald's nearby or the Burger King near my high school or the rock and roll McDonald's in Chicago. He's going to the mall when he travels. He's going to places where teenage girls are. He's had people in the crowd allegedly at shows picking girls. They know what he likes.

BALDWIN: Security guards.

LEMIEUX: Security guards. Enablers.

BALDWIN: With the two --

[14:15:00] JACKSON: On that issue, Brooke, I'd be looking very closely when this moves forward at how many prior bad acts in law are going to be admitted into this case. This case is what it's about. When we get the indictment, we'll look at it, evaluate what the counts are for. The class-two felonies, meaning he faces three to seven years on the counts. But how many other will the judge allow in in terms of the misconduct to be heard by this jury when they're empaneled? That's important because it goes to motive, your common plan and scheme, and it goes to your M.O. in terms of who you are, and jurors find that to be compelling. It's going to be important.

BALDWIN: OK. We're going to stand by. I also want to hear from you, what justice even looks like on this case. R. Kelly, waiting for the news conference a short while from now. Thank you so much.

We have more breaking news ahead including a story that is rocking the sports world. An arrest warrant issued for the owner of the new England Patriots, Robert Kraft. He's been accused of soliciting sex at a Florida day spa.

Also breaking out of New York now where the Manhattan District Attorney prepares to charge Paul Manafort, the former campaign chair, with Trump. Stay with us.

[14:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Here's breaking news from the world of sport. One of the most successful team owners in NFL history, Robert Kraft, has been charged on not one but two counts of soliciting a prostitute. And now the watch is on as far as when Bob Kraft will turn himself in. His team, the New England Patriots, just earned their sixth Super Bowl ring earlier this month. Police in Jupiter, Florida, say is one of several dozen people arrested from this human trafficking staying involving this day spa.

Kraft's spokesman put out a statement saying this, "We categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity. Because it was a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further." However, a Jupiter Police detective offered this --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DET. ANDREW SHARPE, JUPITER POLICE DEPARTMENT: So, the video that we obtained it shows the act that took place. On every gentleman that you have a list of, the acts that took place is recorded on that video.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Showed the act. With me, CNN sports analyst Christine Brennan, A Columnist for "USA Today." And criminal defense attorney Mark O'Meara.

Christine, first before the legal piece, this is a team that people love and love to hate. Bob Kraft Is one of the most recognizable owners in all of professional sports like anywhere. First, what was your reaction when you heard the news?

Christine Brennan, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: It's shocking. This not the kind of thing you expect to hear about any owner of a team, especially as you said one of the highest profile men in U.S. sports. Someone who has wanted that -- he's put himself out there. He's been in the middle of the deflate-gate scandal. They are celebrating with the players and coaches, record tying six super bowls. He's wanted the limelight, wanted the publicity. Has been comfortable being out front which is not always the case with owners of professional sports teams. I think that's why this is so particularly fascinating and troubling for him as an icon. If you're out there that high, the fall from grace, of course, can be even more profound than it would be for some other people.

BALDWIN: Mark, stings like these happen all over the country all the time. Not often with a Bob Kraft arrest. What's the message here with this this?

MARK O'MEARA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: With the caveat, this is day one of the investigation. We don't fully know what happened but presuming the cops have what they say they have, this is a well-known billionaire and this happened in a strip mall -- billionaire, and this happened at a strip mall where you would get a massage, $20, $25, whatever he paid for the additional satisfaction he got. It is senseless to me for someone that accomplished to have put himself at the risk he put himself at. He's facing two misdemeanors, meaning he's not going to jail or anything is going to happen to him realistically. The devastation to his reputation and the way he accomplished this by going to a strip mall seems absurd to me.

BALDWIN: I said arrest -- I mean charged, he's been charged. He denies, as we're all pointing out, denies this. You heard the police detective. They said that they have video. That the Jupiter Police Chief said that they have video of Kraft in a room in the spa receiving paid acts. How damning, Mark, is this video evidence going to be for him? And how does law enforcement even get it?

O'MEARA: Well, they get it because it was a setup sting. They do this throughout Florida, throughout the country, all the time. They know that these are prostitution rings, that women normally are brought in, sometimes through sex trafficking, put in these places, sometimes put in places almost like they're in jail, no i.d., they're put in other rooms when they're not working. So, it's set up in that way. And the police who will come in realize that it's a setup for a prostitution ring and actually take videos and set up video cameras in the room, much like you see other stings. They're going to have probably pretty good videos. And they know what they're doing. The cops do know how to set these up. They know how the right words and are only going to arrest people they have strong cases, where money is transacted, where a specific sex act is either asked for or actually occurs, like it seems to have happened in this case.

[14:25:00] If what they're saying is accurate with that caveat of these cases are pretty straightforward. They're easy to prove and hard to defend because in Florida, it is a crime when you ask for sex and are willing to pay money for it. It seems to be what happened here.

BALDWIN: Christine, I got handed this piece of paper. Let's see. This is the NFL statement, "Regarding Robert Kraft," quote, "the NFL is aware of the ongoing law enforcement matter and will continue to monitor developments." What does the NFL do here?

BRENNAN: I think assuming that there is some kind of guilty plea or conviction, we don't know that yet. If, in fact, this runs its course and that's the end result, then Robert Kraft would easily be fined and also suspended. History has shown perhaps six games. And up to a half million dollar fine. The nfl, this is the last thing the national football league wants. You and I have talked about it. The continuing stories of domestic violence, and now you see this. This is just another terrible day of news in the national football league.

BALDWIN: Christine Brennan, Mark O'Meara, thank you so much. We wait for more detail there. In the meantime, appreciate it, on Robert Kraft.

Breaking news out of New York. The Manhattan D.A. prepares to charge Manafort that would guard against a Presidential pardon. This as we wait for a filing from Robert Mueller that could shed light on everything.