An indictment says Kelly and his managers picked out women and girls at concerts and arranged for them to travel to see Kelly and call him "Daddy".

R. Kelly faces years in prison for exploitation of minor girls if he's proven guilty.
R. Kelly faces years in prison for exploitation of minor girls if he's proven guilty. (AP)

Singer R. Kelly and his entourage recruited girls and women to engage in illegal sexual activity with the singer and covered up the crimes by paying off and threatening victims and witnesses, federal prosecutors alleged on Friday in indictments that could keep the Grammy winner behind bars for decades.

Because they come from the federal government, the accusations add a new dimension to the allegations against Kelly, who was already facing sexual abuse charges brought by Illinois prosecutors earlier this year.

One federal indictment in Chicago said Kelly arranged for a girl and her parents to travel overseas to prevent them from talking with police prior to his 2002 indictment on 21 counts of child pornography. 

The R&B artist allegedly later instructed them to lie to a grand jury about the case. Kelly was acquitted in 2008 of the charges, which accused him of recording a video of sex acts with the girl, who was 12 or 13 when they met in the mid-1990s.

A separate indictment filed in the Eastern District of New York included charges of racketeering, kidnapping, forced labor and the sexual exploitation of a child.

It said Kelly and his managers, bodyguards and other assistants picked out women and girls at concerts and other venues and arranged for them to travel to see Kelly. 

They also set rules the women and girls had to follow, including not leaving their rooms — even to eat or go to the bathroom — without Kelly's permission, calling the singer "Daddy" and not looking at other men, the indictment alleges.

The allegations have swirled for years around Kelly, whom federal prosecutors said Friday was "emboldened by his fame and the lack of any real consequences." 

The charges come after two documentaries and a series of news articles about the accusations, as well as pleas from prosecutors who have urged new victims and witnesses came forward.

Kelly was arrested on Thursday evening while walking his dog "Believe" in Chicago. 

His attorney, Steve Greenberg, said the latest charges were "not a surprise" and that Kelly should be allowed to post bail.

A history of abuse

The New York indictment alleges that the criminal acts occurred over two decades dating back to 1999, both in the US and overseas. 

It accuses Kelly of engaging in sexual acts with girls under 18, of having sex with a woman without disclosing that he had a sexually transmitted disease and of producing child pornography.

The Chicago indictment charges Kelly with child sex crimes, including producing child pornography, and conspiracy to defraud the US government. 

It also names Kelly's business manager, Derrel McDavid, and another employee.

It says Kelly recorded himself engaged in sex acts with several minor girls and went to great lengths to recover the videos when he realised some were missing from his "collection." 

Kelly allegedly made some victims and witnesses take lie-detector tests to ensure they had returned all copies of the videos.

Source: AP