Entertainment

A Judge Denied R. Kelly Bail After He Pled Not Guilty, Is This The Beginning Of His End?

On the heels of Dream Hampton’s “Surviving R. Kelly” series on Lifetime, which detailed multiple sexual abuse allegations against Robert Kelly, it appears the alleged pedophile may finally face some consequences. Hampton’s six-part docuseries, along with the hashtag #MuteRKelly created a firestorm of renewed public interest in what might be at least three decades of possible abuse from the singer R. Kelly. Since February, Kelly has been indicted on multiple criminal charges, spanning incidents across four states: Illinois, Connecticut, California, and New York. 

However, the Eastern District of New York’s federal case against Kelly is just one of many legal battles the singer is up against as he faces what many feel is an overdue reckoning. 

R. Kelly is “irritated” by bail denial according to his lawyer. 

R. Kelly was denied bail pending his trail during an arraignment hearing at the Eastern District federal court in Brooklyn, New York today. The R&B singer pleaded not guilty to a host of charges, including sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, forced labor, and racketeering. U.S. District Magistrate, Judge Steve Tiscone, who was “extremely troubled” by allegations that Kelly intimidated witnesses, ordered him to remain in custody until the trial. 

Prosecutor Elizabeth Geddes argued Kelly should be denied bail. Geddes alleged Kelly paid off witnesses to not appear in court while out on bail during the 2002 child pornography case against him. It should be noted Kelly wasn’t acquitted until six years later — that’s quite a while to be out when charged with such serious crimes. 

The judge agreed with Geddes. Later, Anton told reporters Kelly was “irritated” about the denial. Nevertheless, Kelly will be flown back to Illinois by U.S. Marshals within 48 hours of the hearing. 

Kelly’s alleged victims have waited a long time to see justice. 

The 52-year-old has dodged rumors and allegations of sexual assault since 1997 when Kelly, then 27 years old, was rumored to have married the 15-year-old pop star Aaliyah in secret. Kelly has denied rumors that he married or dated Aaliyah for years. However, in Surviving R. Kelly, Jovante Cunningham, a former backup singer of Kelly’s, claims he saw the two together firsthand. 

“On a tour bus, there really aren’t many confined spaces. When you get on the bus there are bunks and so these bunks have little curtains you can pull at night if you don’t want anybody to see you sleeping,” Cunningham recalled

“So it just so happened we were all laying in our bunks and the curtains are open, everybody’s communicating, laughing,” Cunningham continued. “When the [room] door flew open on the bus. Robert was having sex with Aaliyah.”

 In 2002, Kelly was indicted on 21 charges related to child pornography but was acquitted of all charges by a jury in 2008. Gloria Allred, who represents three Jane Does in the Eastern District’s case, said there are reportedly 13 victims in total involved with all of Kelly’s cases.

It appears the tides are turning for R. Kelly after decades of organizing and sounding the alarm largely by black women. 

The “Ignition” singer has multiple cases against him. 

In February, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in Illinois charged Kelly with 10 counts of aggravated criminal abuse which alleges that from 1998 to 2010, Kelly filmed himself engaging in sexual acts with minors. In July, federal prosecutors in New York and Chicago indicted Kelly on 18 charges including child exploitation and violating the Mann Act by coercing and transporting women and girls across state lines for illicit sexual activity or sexual assault. 

Not everyone is convinced of R. Kelly’s guilt. 

While many have joined the #MuteRKelly movement, others remain unconvinced of the singer’s guilt. Kelly’s two girlfriends Azriel Clary and Joycelyn Savage appeared at the arraignment. They weren’t his only supporters — a group of women, one wearing a “Free R. Kelly” t-shirt, appeared in solidarity outside of the courthouse. 

One of the women, 50-year-old Ruthie Castro, told CNN, “I’ve always supported him for many years,” and remains convinced of his innocence.  

Many believe that Kelly uses his fame and falses promises of stardom to attract young, vulnerable girls only to coerce them into joining a cult-like harem. Kelly’s “mind control” techniques were revealed in a BuzzFeed News exposé, which seemed to further fan the flames of public and legal fury in the singer’s direction. 

In an era where we have a racist reality TV star as President of the United States, it is all the more important we remain critical and ever-scrutinizing of any man with a cult-like personality who adorns himself with young, starstruck women. 

Uber Says There Were More Than 3,000 Sexual Assaults Reported In Its App Last Year And Here’s What They Plan To Do

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Uber Says There Were More Than 3,000 Sexual Assaults Reported In Its App Last Year And Here’s What They Plan To Do

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Uber has been grappling sexism and sexual assault controversies for years now. After revealing its first safety report, the car service disclosed that users reported 3,045 sexual assaults, of those 235 were rapes, during rides last year. There were also nine murders and 58 people were killed in car accidents. 

The number of outright tragedies reported is less than one percent of total Uber rides, which reached 1.3 billion rides in the United States in 2018, according to the company. Nevertheless, officials at Uber were unsettled by the number of crimes and tragedies. 

Uber relies on the fact that it is accessible and ubiquitous to drivers and riders.

Like other ride-hailing apps, including Lyft and Via, the lynchpin of Uber’s business model is an egalitarian approach to who can use it. This means regulations are often ditched in favor of allowing any driver with a car to work for the company. It means these drivers aren’t screened, and in New York City they don’t require a Taxi medallion like traditional yellow cab drivers. 

When employees (and customers for that matter) aren’t properly audited, sexual assaults, attacks, and murders can become all too common. Uber maintains that the crimes and tragedies aren’t a reflection of Uber’s policies but of society’s. 

“The numbers are jarring and hard to digest,” Tony West, Uber’s chief legal officer told the New York Times. “What it says is that Uber is a reflection of the society it serves.”

When the New York Times checked Uber’s safety record against the New York Police Department’s registery of sex crimes and rapes on the city’s transit systems, 553 assaults were reported in 2018. 

There were trends among which crimes drivers committed and which were committed against them. 

While 92 percent of rape victims were riders, murder victims tended to be drivers, riders and other parties. However, both drivers and riders reported other forms of sexual assault at about the same rate, according to Uber’s report. The report categorizes sexual assault into 21 categories that range from unwanted touching to attempted rape to rape. 

“Confronting sexual violence requires honesty, and it’s only by shining a light on these issues that we can begin to provide clarity on something that touches every corner of society,” the company’s chief legal officer, Tony West, said in the executive summary of the report. “The moment is now for companies to confront it, count it, and work together to end it.”

In April a woman filed a $10 million lawsuit against Uber claiming she was sexually assaulted by her driver and as a result is suing the company for negligence and consumer protection violations, according to The Verge. At least 31 drivers have been convicted of various related offenses like assault, rape, false imprisonment and other crimes, according to CNN. Last year, a pedestrian was killed after being hit by a self-driving Uber car. In 2017, an engineer at the company exposed Uber’s corporate culture as sexist leading to an investigation where dozens of employees were fired. 

Uber has begun implementing more steps to protect passengers and drivers.

Uber’s reputation has been overshadowed by seemingly countless incidences of sexual assaults and the report has not pacified all of their critics. Nevertheless, many are praising the company for disclosing such information warts and all. 

“The more that the public is aware, the more the company and everyone else has to respond,” Jeanne Christensen, whose law firm represented rape victims in cases against Uber, told the New York Times. “It’s such a part of daily life that everyone is going to take it. We’re already at that point. So now they just have to make it as safe as possible.”

Uber has been taking steps over the past 21 months to document and prevent more safety violations. In the app, they added a panic button so that passengers can directly call 911 and provide them with their location. Riders can also use check-ins if their driver appears to be taking a suspicious route. 

“All of those steps are starters because these ride-hailing companies have been abjectly failing in their duty to protect against predators or criminals,” Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal told the New York Times

The company has partnered with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center to determine its best course of action. Since 2017, the company has tripled the staff of its safety team with continued expansion expected. In 2020, it will roll out a hotline with the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. 

“The numbers in the report are not surprising because sexual violence permeates all aspects of our society, whether that’s ride-share or Metro or taxi or a workplace,” Allison Randall of the National Network to End Domestic Violence told Washington Post. “This is definitely the start of a conversation.”

El Paso Man Charged With Murdering His Date Whose Body Is Still Missing

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El Paso Man Charged With Murdering His Date Whose Body Is Still Missing

El Paso Police Department

The family of a woman who had been declared missing since July has finally found tragic answers after El Paso police charged Ricardo Marquez, 28, with her murder. Erika Andrea Gaytan, 29, was reported missing by her family on July 16, who felt it was out-of-character for Gaytan to disappear and leave her 7-year-old son behind. Gaytan reportedly was last heard from after going to a concert at the El Paso County Coliseum on July 13 with Ricardo Marquez. Gaytan recorded the concert, featuring Los Rieleros del Norte, Polo Urias and La Maquinaria Norteña, from her social media last night, marking the last time anyone heard from her. Detectives say that the day after Gaytan’s disappearance, Marquez borrowed his brother’s car and his sister’s shovel. Gaytan’s blood was found in Marquez’s Jeep. In a statement released Wednesday, Sgt. Enrique Carrillo said that Gaytan’s “body has not been found, but based on forensic and other evidence gathered over the course of the investigation detectives have reason to believe that she is deceased and was the victim of a murder.”

Police believe Marquez used zip-ties to restrain Gaytan in his home, where he murdered her.

CREDIT: EL PASO POLICE DEPARTMENT / FACEBOOK

Marquez was brought in for questioning following Gaytan’s disappearance, where he told detectives that she came home with him, but used a ride-hailing app to leave after they got into a verbal argument. Detectives found no evidence that Gaytan used her ride-hailing apps, discrediting Marquez’s statement. According to a court affidavit, Marquez continued to give conflicting statements about his experience with Gaytan, and his whereabouts the following day, when speaking with law enforcement and family and friends alike. 

Marquez allegedly spent the next day covering up his crime.

CREDIT: @JALAKFOX_CBS / TWITTER

Investigators then looked into Marquez’s phone records, which showed that he had texted his brother and sister the next morning. He asked his brother if he could borrow his all-wheel-drive Jeep Wrangler, and picked up a shovel from his sister. Surveillance video evidence creates a timeline for Marquez’s alleged cover-up. He borrowed a shovel from his sister around 11:25 a.m. the following morning, and then went to his brother’s house to pick up the Jeep. He spent about an hour with his brother before being spotted on the 13900 block of Montana in east El Paso, driving toward the Redlands desert area. An hour later, the Jeep was spotted again, driving back to his brother’s house around 1:39 p.m., according to the affidavit that was issued for his arrest. With a search warrant in hand, a Department of Public Safety DNA lab-tested Marquez’s brother’s Jeep trunk floor mat, which came back positive for traces of Gaytan’s blood. Police believe Marquez transported Gaytan’s body in the trunk of his brother’s car, and buried her in an unknown area in the desert.

Court documents cite that a search of Marquez’s home produced the shovel he borrowed from his sister, a pair of shoes filled with sand, and zip-ties “tied in a manner to be used as restraints.” Detectives have concluded that “Ricardo Marquez murdered the victim in his residence, used the Jeep to transport the body of the victim to an unknown location only accessible by off-road vehicles, and that he used the shovel to bury the body.”

The El Paso community is shocked to hear of Gaytan’s murder.

CREDIT: EL PASO POLICE DEPARTMENT / FACEBOOK

“Too many tragedies as of late,” commented Melissa Arredondo on the El Paso Police Department’s Facebook announcement of the arrest. “Dang… And the report says he buried her near Redlands. That place is so cursed. My friend’s dad just died there. It will never be the same,” commented another member of the community. Others remain hopeful in demanding that the police find Gaytan’s body before assuming her death. “Too many questions remain,” commented another concerned El Paso citizen.

Gaytan was facing a court hearing for criminal mischief when she disappeared, but her family couldn’t believe that she would leave her son behind without warning. Gaytan once appeared on El Paso’s Most Wanted List in 2017 before she was charged 66 charges of credit abuse in a criminal mischief case.

Police say the investigation is ongoing and detectives are relying on the public for more information. If you have information on the case or Ricardo Marquez, call (915) 212-4040 or Crime Stoppers of El Paso at (915) 566-8477.

READ: California Man Arrested With Drugs And Guns While Keeping A Person Hostage And Suspected Of Murder