R&B superstar R Kelly was taken into custody on Wednesday for failing to pay child support, just weeks after he was detained on sex abuse charges.
The singer was unable to come up with the $161 000 (about R2,2 million) he owes in payments to his ex-wife and their three children, and a judge in Chicago, where Kelly lives, ordered him arrested.
It was the latest legal setback for the 52-year-old music star who pleaded not guilty on February 25 to 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against four victims, three of them minors.
Kelly’s representatives say he is having financial difficulties, despite an award-winning career that once produced hits such as “I Believe I Can Fly.”
He has been the target of a boycott campaign amid mounting allegations of sexual abuse.
Kelly was prepared Wednesday to pay $50 000 to $60 000 of what he owed, according to his publicist, but the judge required the full amount.
“We were coming expecting that he was gonna come and make an arrangement, but they wanted the entire amount,” Darryll Johnson told reporters at the courthouse.
Kelly, who arrived in court in a blue business suit, was “expecting to leave,” Johnson said.
Instead, he was taken into custody and escorted from the courtroom by a police officer. He will likely remain in jail until his next court hearing on March 13.
“The reason he can’t pay, as you know, he hadn’t worked in a long time. He can’t book shows he can’t do anything,” Johnson said.
Kelly spent three nights in jail last month after being arrested on criminal sex abuse charges.
He initially was unable to arrange payment of a $100,000 bail. His attorney said at the time that Kelly’s finances were “a mess.”
Hours before Wednesday’s hearing, CBS aired an interview with the musician – his first public comments since being indicted last month on the sex assault charges — in which he at one point seemed to succumb to his emotions.
Kelly rose from his seat, yelling and cursing at the cameras.
“I didn’t do this stuff. This not me,” Kelly told “CBS This Morning,” saying he was “fighting” for his life.
“Whether they’re old rumours, new rumours, future rumours, not true,” Kelly said.
The sex acts in the criminal case are alleged to have occurred between May 1998 and January 2010.
The details of the case echoed previous accusations of sexual misconduct that have dogged the artist for the last two decades.
In 2002 he was criminally charged for allegedly filming himself having sex with a 14-year-old girl. He was tried in that case and acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008.
A 2017 BuzzFeed report later alleged he had kept women as virtual sex slaves at homes he owns in Chicago and Atlanta.
And in January, a six-part documentary called “Surviving R. Kelly” was released. It said he had engaged in sexual, mental and physical abuse of girls and women.
“Thirty years of my career! And Y’all trying to kill me? You killing me, man! This is not about music! I’m trying to have a relationship with my kids! And I can’t do it! Y’all just don’t want to believe the truth!” Kelly told CBS.
Kelly’s ex-wife Andrea Kelly, who is at the centre of the child custody case, also has previously accused him of domestic abuse.