Judge Orders Inspection of R. Kelly's Chicago Rental Property - NBC 7 San Diego

Judge Orders Inspection of R. Kelly's Chicago Rental Property

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    Hours after protesters demonstrated outside R. Kelly's Chicago studio, the rapper - facing increased scrutiny over allegations of a range of misconduct - reportedly partied at a nightclub on the city's South Side Wednesday night, videos posted on social media appear to show. Sandra Torres reports. 

    (Published Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019)

    A judge granted the city of Chicago's request on Friday to inspect a property rapper R. Kelly rents on Chicago's Near West Side.

    The judge ruled that the inspection of the property in the 200 block of North Justine Street in the West Town neighborhood will take place Wednesday between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. CST.

    The ruling was a victory for city lawyers who allege that the building is being used in a manner that is not in compliance with its zoning designation.

    Attorneys for the city said they have received a complaint that the commercial property is possibly being used as a recording studio and a residence, which would be in violation of its building permits.

    "The parties to this litigation, including the property owner and the tenant, are cooperating fully with the city of Chicago in ensuring that all building code and zoning measures at the subject premises do remain compliant," Melvin Sims, the attorney representing Kelly in the property case, said at a news conference Friday afternoon. 

    "There is no truth to any of the specious allegations regarding that premises," he continued.  

    The judge's ruling allowing the inspection came as the rapper faces increased scrutiny over allegations of mental, physical and sexual abuse highlighted in a new television series.

    The six-part series “Surviving R. Kelly,” which describes decades of Kelly’s alleged misconduct, aired last week on Lifetime. It features multiple women who have accused Kelly of sexual, mental, and physical abuse and includes interviews with Kelly’s brothers, the founder of the #MeToo movement, talk-show host Wendy Williams and singer John Legend.

    Kelly has repeatedly denied all the allegations against him. Kelly did go as far as detailing the claims against him in a song released last year.

    The series pointed to the Justine Street rental as a spot where Kelly may have allegedly housed some of the young women he has been accused of seeing.

    Attorneys for Midwest Commercial Funding, the company that owns the building and leases it to Kelly, said in a statement Thursday that the company had initiated eviction proceedings, alleging Kelly had not been paying rent. 

    The embattled entertainer has long been accused of behavior that has ranged from questionable to potentially criminal. He was accused of child pornography after a widely circulated videotape appeared to show him having sex with, and urinating on, a teenage girl. He was acquitted of all charges in 2008.

    In the wake of what she called "deeply disturbing" allegations chronicled in the series, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx on Tuesday encouraged potential victims to come forward.

    "We cannot do anything related to these allegations without the cooperation of these victims," Foxx said at a press conference.

    Foxx noted her office is "in the process of trying to get information" and has been in contact with Chicago police and families who documented concerns surrounding a relative's contact with the rapper.

    Her office said Wednesday that it is following up on calls it has since received.

    "We can confirm that the office has received calls related to this matter," a spokesperson for the office said in a statement Wednesday. "We are in the process of reviewing and following up on these calls and have no additional information to provide at this time."

    Also Wednesday, Chicago police confirmed they conducted a "business check" at Kelly's recording studio.

    "We have no criminal complaints from anyone about the location but we strongly urge anyone that may have information on potential criminal activity to please contact police," CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement.

    Steven Greenburg, Kelly's attorney, told NBC 5 in a phone interview there was no evidence of any wrongdoing.

    "There's not gonna be any physical evidence, no confirmatory evidence," he said. "Because they want 15 minutes of fame and [Foxx is] encouraging that."

    He said Foxx's call for alleged victims to come forward was "unprecedented."

    "People know how to call the cops," Greenburg said. "People call 911. Nobody's done that because nothing has happened."

    NBC News reached out to Kelly’s representatives about the series and they said they had no comment. NBC Chicago also reached out to Lifetime for comment but has not heard back.

    Foxx said victims of sexual assault or domestic violence can contact their local police department or call the state's attorney's office at (773) 674-6492.