Earlier this week, R. Kelly entered a not guilty plea in response to the charges of sexual abuse he is currently facing. After making bond due to the help of a woman identifying herself as a friend of the singer's, Kelly is next set to appear in court on March 22.
As the investigation into the 52-year-old's alleged criminal behavior continues, prosecutors are also looking into those close to the singer. As reported, Michael Avenatti, the attorney for the alleged victims, believes that the people who enabled the singer could also be subject to criminal liability.
Prosecutors claim that R. Kelly turned to his inner circle for their assistance in lure underage girls. According to reports, prosecutors believe that after the singer met a 16-year-old girl who was celebrating her birthday at a restaurant, his manager gave out a business card with Kelly's contact information on it, telling her the singer wants her to call him. Prosecutors claim the singer sexually abused the girl once a month for a year after taking the business card from her mother's purse.
Avenatti said that over 10 associates of Kelly's, including agents and security guards, could face criminal liability for their role in Kelly's alleged criminal behavior, either by staying silent or directly him with his agenda. The systemic nature of being depending on the people around him is discussed in the "Surviving R. Kelly" docu-series, which was released back in January.
"[R. Kelly] could not have accomplished this for 28 years without the assistance of others who looked the other way because they didn't want the R. Kelly gravy train to end," Avenatti said. "His handlers and enablers are going to look to save their own butts as opposed to R. Kelly."
While Kelly is looking at the possibility of a lengthy prison term if convicted, there is no official legal action being taken against those in his inner circle at this time. Per the Associated Press, it remains uncertain what laws could be invoked and if his manager or other team members may face charges due to their complicity in any abuse or for failing to report any suspected abuse.
As reported, all 50 states require that certain professionals, including doctors and teachers, report any suspicions of child abuse. However, only about a third of the states in the U.S. require that all adults do. The singer's home state of Illinois is among the states that do not require an adult to report suspected child abuse outside of a list detailing which professions are mandatory reporters. A bill, titled The Speak Up Act, was introduced by Sen. Bob Casey to make it a federal crime in all 50 states if an adult who suspects child abuse chooses not to report it. The bill, which was introduced eight years ago, has not garnered enough support to come up for a vote.
At this time, the singer's attorney, Steve Greenberg, declined to comment on any possible criminal exposure pertaining to those close to his client.