A Chicago judge ruled this week in favor of a woman who accused the R&B singer R. Kelly of having sexually abused her when she was a teenager in the 1990s, a decision that could lead to more financial woes for Mr. Kelly.
The woman, Heather Williams, sued Mr. Kelly in February, the same month that he was arrested on charges of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four women, three of them underage at the time.
Because Mr. Kelly, 52, and his lawyers did not respond to the lawsuit or schedule a court appearance, the judge granted Ms. Williams’s request for a default judgment, her lawyer, Jeffrey Deutschman, said. If Mr. Kelly continues to be unresponsive, the judge will decide how much he must pay Ms. Williams after a court hearing next month, Mr. Deutschman said.
Mr. Kelly’s lawyer, Steve Greenberg, did not immediately return requests for comment. Mr. Kelly’s publicist, Darrell Johnson, told The Chicago Sun-Times: “We don’t care about the lawsuit. The lawsuit means nothing to us.”
Ms. Williams is one of the four women Mr. Kelly, whose full name is Robert Kelly, is charged with abusing. In criminal court documents, she is referred to by her initials, but she used her full name in her lawsuit. Mr. Kelly has denied all accusations of abuse.
The lawsuit said that on Ms. Williams’s 16th birthday, in 1998, Mr. Kelly stopped in his car to speak with her while she was walking on a sidewalk in Chicago. Later that day, an associate of Mr. Kelly met Ms. Williams and her family at a restaurant and gave her Mr. Kelly’s number, according to the lawsuit. She said he told her that Mr. Kelly wanted her to be in a music video he was making.
In the criminal court documents, prosecutors said that she took a cab to Mr. Kelly’s studio, where they had intercourse and she performed oral sex on him. They had sex about once a month for a year.
The lawsuit said that Ms. Williams reckoned with those memories in therapy four years ago, realizing the psychological distress they had caused.
“My client wants to be paid as a result of the terrible treatment she went through as a minor,” Mr. Deutschman said in an interview. “All I’m able to do for her is get her money.”
Mr. Kelly came under intense scrutiny after the release of the Lifetime documentary “Surviving R. Kelly,” which chronicled abuse allegations by girls and women. The public backlash led to his being dropped by his record label and a push to boycott his music, fueling speculation that Mr. Kelly no longer has the income to afford an expensive team of lawyers. He was briefly jailed in March for failure to pay child support.
Last year, another woman sued Mr. Kelly in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, alleging that when she was 19, he initiated “nonconsensual oral and vaginal intercourse” and failed to tell her that he was infected with herpes. That lawsuit is still pending.
Mr. Deutschman said that Ms. Williams will appear in court next month to detail her memory of her contact with Mr. Kelly when she was a teenager. He said that he plans to ask the judge to close that hearing to the public to protect his client’s privacy.