County Attorney Mike Freeman Defends Victim in R. Kelly Case: 'She's Entitled to Her Day'

The musician faces charges of two counts of prostitution and solicitation in Minnesota involving a girl under 18.

August 6, 2019

The Minnesota prosecutor who brought charges against R. Kelly fired back Tuesday at criticism from the R&B singer's attorney, who had accused the victim of being "in it for publicity" and called the case a "waste of time."

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said investigators believed the alleged victim had suffered and they found her to be credible. 

"The investigator who investigated this case is a veteran who's been through a lot of these kinds of cases and found [the victim] to be very trustworthy," Freeman told 830 WCCO Radio host Chad Hartman. "She's entitled to her day, and no rich, high paid defense attorney from Chicago is going to convince me otherwise."

Kelly, 52, faces charges of two counts of prostitution and solicitation in Minnesota involving a girl under 18 for an alleged incident in 2001. The incident allegedly took place while R. Kelly was in Minneapolis.

Kelly, 52, is alleged to have met a 17-year-old girl at an event in downtown Minneapolis. According to Freeman, the victim was trying to get an autograph from Kelly, and he gave her the autograph and a phone number. The criminal complaint says when the girl called the number, she was invited to Kelly's hotel, offered $200 to take off her clothes and dance. The complaint says Kelly took his clothes off and they danced together.

Freeman explained that the statute of limitations did not apply in this case because Kelly had not returned to the state for any considerable length of time since the alleged incident occurred. 

"I think society, and I support most of it, are being, more empathetic to victims of sexual crimes or abuse crimes. Lots of times, it takes the victim a long time to do it and be willing to come forward because frankly, society has not necessarily treated the victims very well."

Freeman added that the way prosecutors handle allegations involving sexual assault have changed in recent years, and that he would have brought the charges even if Kelly wasn't a celebrity. 

"I think that the tables have turned a bit and frankly I'm kind of supportive of that — women have been abused and not been able to bring their cases for a long time. It's about time they have the chance."

With the new charges, R. Kelly faces his fourth criminal prosecution in three states since the start of year. He's currently being held without bail awaiting trial on charges of sexual assault, child pornography and obstruction of justice in Chicago and New York.

Freeman said that authorities may end up pursuing a joint or "global" settlement with Kelly, and in that scenario, he would insist that the Minnesota case be factored in. 

"We will be talking with the authorities elsewhere about how we coordinate. But as I said yesterday, one of the important things we have here is this: the victim's suffering has a chance, a real chance to be part of the resolution, which it wouldn't have been if we hadn't charged," he said. 

Listen to the full interview here: