After infamous R. Kelly sit-down, Gayle King isn’t surprised by his arrest

R. Kelly’s recent arrest has not come as a shock to the singer nor the journalist with whom he had an unforgettable sit-down with months ago. 

The Grammy Award winning artist was arrested Thursday and is being held in a federal jail in Chicago after he was charged in separate federal indictments in Illinois and New York with multiple sex crimes, including child porn, sex-trafficking, racketeering and crossing state lines for sex with underage girls. Kelly’s attorney Steve Greenberg issued a statement via social media Friday, saying the charges “were not a surprise.” 

Gayle King, who was celebrated for her composure during Kelly’s emotional interview, told Entertainment Tonight, she also expected the charges. 

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CBS THIS MORNING co-host Gayle King sat down with R&B singer R. Kelly Tuesday in Chicago for his first television interview since he was arrested on 10 sexual abuse charges.  (Photo: Lazarus Jean-Baptiste, CBS This Morning)

“The indictments are not a surprise to me. We’ve been hearing that they are coming for quite some time,” she told the outlet Monday.  “… He always, always, always insists that he’s innocent of all the charges. But now these are very serious charges coming from federal officials.

“I think that it’s a brand new ballgame,” she continued. “So we will see what happens.”

“I’ve talked to R. Kelly’s representative since he was arrested and they are still very convinced that he will be fine and that he will be proven innocent once again,” added King. “They told me they’re very confident about that. So we shall see.”

Related: ‘CBS This Morning’: Gayle King praises ‘seamless transition,’ Norah O’Donnell ‘sleeps in’

During an emotionally charged interview with R. Kelly, which aired on “CBS This Morning” in March, the singer vehemently denied sexual abuse claims. 

At one point during the interview Kelly got up from his chair and screamed, “Y’all trying to kill me,” while pounding his chest. King remained calm. Later in the interview she told him, “Robert, we have to have a conversation. I don’t want you just ranting at the camera.” 

King was applauded for maintaining her composure by her then co-host Norah O’Donnell. 

“It wouldn’t have done any good if we both got hysterical,” King reasoned.

Kelly appeared in court briefly Friday in Chicago for a removal hearing on the New York indictment, but prosecutors and his lawyers agreed to postpone a decision on that until after his arraignment. Kelly stood before the judge in an orange jumpsuit, with his hands clasped behind his back, according to The Associated Press. 

The New York charges accuse Kelly of being the leader of a “racketeering enterprise” with managers, bodyguards, drivers, personal assistants and runners in his entourage who recruited women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with Kelly, including transporting them “throughout the United States” for the purposes of sex. 

As part of his alleged racketeering “enterprise,” Kelly is accused of making “rules” for his alleged sexual partners, including isolating them from others, barring them from leaving their rooms even to eat or go to the bathroom, requiring them to wear baggy clothes, forbidding them to look at other men, and requiring them to call him “Daddy.”

Many of these allegations were also raised in the “Surviving R. Kelly” series on Lifetime that aired in January and helped revive longstanding suspicions about Kelly’s alleged sexual misconduct and abuse of women and girls. 

Kelly is due to appear in court Tuesday in Chicago for a hearing to discuss bail and arraignment arrangements for the separate indictments. Kelly has been ordered to appear for it, according to Joseph Fitzpatrick, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago.

In addition, Kelly is also facing multiple sex-crime charges in state court in Chicago, with the next hearing date for that scheduled for August.

Nicole Blank Becker, one of Kelly’s lawyers on the state sex crimes pending against him in Chicago, told USA TODAY Friday that Kelly was treated well when he was arrested in Chicago.

“Robert was walking his dogs last night when he was picked up, and (federal agents) were very courteous and very professional with him,” Becker said in a phone interview.

“The charges arise from alleged conduct that happened in the Northern District of Illinois and the Eastern District of New York, and the alleged conduct appears to be very similar to conduct he was previously charged with in state court in Chicago and already acquitted of (in 2008). And the information in the indictment also appears to be decades old.”

Contributing: Maeve McDermott, Andrea Mandell and Maria Puente

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